Co-op partially successful in bid to extend weekend alcohol sales at Fenland store

A CO-op store has been given permission to sell alcohol on a Saturday evening but not on Sunday evenings following a ruling by Fenland Council.

The council’s licensing committee agreed to allow the store in Badgeney Road, March, to vary the conditions of their drinks licence despite protests from three residents.

Graham Stannard, for the Co-op, told the hearing on Monday that it was important they were able to compete with other outlets such as Tesco Express in Broad Street.

The committee also heard that had been no complaints from the police, licensing officials or residents in respect of under age sales and that the application met all the requirements for a licence to be amended.

Councillor Ray Griffin asked if there would be extra deliveries if the variation was granted. Mr Stannard said there would be no change to deliveries to the store and no additional deliveries to the store.

Amanda Douglas, one of the objectors, asked Mr Stannard how many deliveries the Co-operative Food Store received per day. Mr Stannard said there were no more than five.

Ms Douglas said five to six lorries deliver per day and start as early as 6:15/6:45am and the last delivery can be as late as 7pm which are both too early and too late for a residential area.

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She asked what the difference was between a supermarket and a convenience store, as the Co-operative Food Store is classed as a convenient store and she therefore did not understand why it should be receiving between five and six deliveries per day.

Mr Stannard explained that a convenient store is a small supermarket selling a wide range of products that people would want to buy 24 hours a day and in terms of the size of vehicles that deliver to the store, some of these lorries hold 58 cages and therefore deliver to 10 stores at a time.

Ms Douglas said that the Co-operative Food Store operates for 65 hours a week and questioned why it needed to be longer. She said the Tesco store in March was there is people wanted to buy alcohol if they so wish.

She said there was no need to open until 10pm on a Saturday and Sunday in a residential area. Her view was that the area was once quiet and has now turned noisy with lots of youths hanging around outside the store.

Councillor Michael Humphrey asked why the Co-operative Food Store wished to extend it hours. Mr Stannard stated this was because of competitors operating at similar hours and because of the review having taken place across the business; it would bring them into line with their competitors.

Councillor Ralph Butcher asked Mr Stannard if in his opinion this store needed these extra hours to survive or would it lose business if the hours were not extended. Mr Stannard replied stating that it was not to do with survival but to do with maximizing business potential.

Councillor Butcher said Ms Amanda Douglas moved into Badgeney Road three years ago and at that time the noise was bearable; what difference was there now that makes in unbearable.

She replied that the lorries have increased in this time as it never seemed so bad before. They had realised when they moved in that it would be noisy but it was not just the lorries that have increased but the noise and activity down the street and those hanging around the shop.

Cllr Humphrey stated that if there was any evidence in relation to youths and noise outside this would help but there have been no police reports or representations.

Ms Douglas stated that two or three times her or her partner have tackled the youths outside but the elderly residents would not do this. There have been a lot of car break-ins and litter too which the council has been very good at clearing on a regular basis. This needs to stay as a residential area.

Cllr Humphrey stated that they had concerns that an estate wide review had been undertaken by The Co-operative and not a local review but the panel had accepted that there was a need to challenge competition and were content with all the other reassurances received.

The licensing panel agreed to extend the hours on Saturday as per the application 07:00 - 22:00; however, the licence and opening hours on a Sunday will be from 08:00 - 19:00.

Both parties have a right to appeal 21 days from receipt of this decision.

A council spokesman noted the panel’s “long deliberation was based on the fine balance in order to satisfy both the applicant and residents.”

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