Fenland Council does a U-turn to allow new off-licence to open in Wisbech - despite opposition by police and health chiefs
- Credit: Archant
Councillors ditched police and trading standards advice – and the recommendation of their own officers- to allow another supermarket in Wisbech to sell alcohol.
Baltic International Food at 50 Hill Street won a surprise decision by the licensing committee of Fenland Council to open for business.
Police licensing officer Phil Richardson wanted the application refused under the council’s own cumulative impact policy that restricts the number of alcohol outlets in the town.
He said there were 12 outlets already selling alcohol within a few minutes walk and he cautioned against another so near The Crescent and St Peters Church gardens which “attracts large number of street drinkers”.
He said these areas had become associated with “violence and crime in recent years necessitating police action”.
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Pc Richardson said the number of shops selling alcohol in the town had been a concern for some time and street drinking “sits as a high concern by the local populace”.
And he said recent figures show a rise of nearly 20 per cent in the past year in alcohol related incidents.
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The application was before the licensing committee and chairman Michael Humphrey said his members felt the applicant had provided “sufficient evidence to rebut the presumption that we would normally refuse the application”.
The committee also heard from senior trading standards officer Andrew Fayers who claimed the applicants had not provided sufficient evidence to rebut the issues contained within the cumulative impact policy.
Kate Parker, on behalf of the director of public health Dr Liz Robin, said despite the cumulative impact policy the town still faced serious alcohol related problems.
Alcohol related deaths in Fenland were the highest in Cambridgeshire. To year ending March 31, 2015 there had been 316 people in Fenland needing treatment for alcohol misuse – 42 of them requiring either a community detox or admission to hospital.
Cllr Humphrey said the personal licence holder would need to be at the premises at all times alcohol is sold; his committee’s decision had been “carried out in accordance with the Human Rights Act entitling all parties to a fair hearing”.