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Tuesday, May 24, 2022

MIDDLESBROUGH COUNCIL: Off licence application to serve alcohol

Convenience store owner seeks approval for booze bid for second time

The owner of a Middlesbrough convenience store has requested permission for the second time for an alcohol licence.

Muhammad Tayyeb Butt wants to be able to sell alcohol from 7am to 10pm every day at his store Go Local at 85 Borough Road. However, in an attempt to get the authorities on board, the application states that no alcohol will be sold unless customers spend £5 on other products, not including tobacco and mobile phone cards.

Mr Butt has also committed to not selling single cans, or beer, lager and cider which is higher than 6.5% ABV. Mr Butt’s first application for this site was rejected by Middlesbrough Council because the premises is in the town’s Central ward, which is covered by the cumulative impact policy.

This is in place in areas that have a high number of late-night food outlets or premises selling alcohol which are linked to high rates of crime and anti-social behaviour. As a result, new premises wanting to serve alcohol have to prove there will be no negative impact otherwise they will be refused a licence.

At the licensing hearing for the original application on January 27, Cleveland Police’s lawyer Paul Clarke said that allowing the store to sell alcohol would not be positive for the area. He went on to add: “There have been 1,006 violent crimes in a 500-metre radius of the premises over a 13 month period.

“That’s a startling statistic and shows the level of crime that’s already there in the local area. Alcohol doesn’t reduce the amount of crime in local areas, if anything it’ll only add to it. It might be a small amount but any amount is significant when you are talking about those types of statistics.”

According to Mr Butt, he has spoken to Cleveland Police to implement further measures in an attempt to get his most recent application over the line. This includes, the installation of CCTV, staff trained to use CCTV to assist police with any inquiries, and employees will be “vigilant” and disperse groups of three or more directly outside of the shop who have been customers.

There will also be staff training, and refresher training, about the responsible sale of alcohol, an incident log will be maintained, and security staff will be employed on a risk-assessed basis. Mr Butt has also committed to keeping spirits behind the counter, alcohol not taking up more than 10% of the shop display area and when the police make a request, beers, lagers and ciders will be marked so the force knows which shop they have come from.

However, Public Health has rejected the proposed conditions, according to Mr Butt’s application. At the last licensing hearing, the council’s principal public protection officer Sinead Upton was against the store being given permission to sell alcohol.

She said: “We have no problems with the applicant and he showed a willingness to work with us but the fact of the matter is, it’s just another outlet that’s selling alcohol in an area where there are already loads of problems with the supply of alcohol. We do not see any way, if this was granted, that it would not exacerbate what’s already the problems that Middlesbrough has. As the police said, it’s the wrong premises in the wrong place.”

The last date for public comments on the application is May 5.

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