Police object to Wisbech supermarket’s bid to sell alcohol from 6am

POLICE claim a Wisbech supermarket’s bid to sell alcohol from 6am would allow street drinkers to “buy their early morning supply”.

The Co-operative Food Group Ltd has applied to vary the premises licence of Somerfield Stores, in the Horsefair, to allow them to serve alcohol from 6am-11pm, Monday to Saturday. The store is currently licensed from 7am.

But Sgt Dave Bax, licensing officer for Fenland, will tell Monday’s Fenland District Council Licensing Committee hearing that the extension would increase anti-social behaviour.

In an objection to the application, Sgt Bax says the store is situated in an area where “street drinking seriously effects the local community”.

He says: “This behaviour commences as early as 6am daily, and goes on all day, with persons urinating in public, and disposing of the cans and bottles in public places.

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“There are other stores with a sales time commencing at 6am and these stores are frequented by street drinkers wishing to buy their early morning supply.

“I can see no reason to add to this situation by allowing this premise to apparently focus this variation of hours to encourages sales at this time.”

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Sgt Bax says police approached the store to request an agreement not to sell single cans or bottles of beer, lager or cider.

This was accepted by the store manager but Sgt Bax says that after the request was sent to the company’s licensing department “there was no further progress, and the suggestion appears to have been ignored”.

Police also criticised the “very poor quality” CCTV of Somerfield, stating that the “system is not fit for purpose and certainly wouldn’t meet the prevention of the crime and disorder element of the Licensing Objectives”.

Sgt Bax said that there were 19 reports of theft of alcohol from the store.

“In a number of cases the officers mention that the CCTV was of poor quality,” he said.

Only three premises in Wisbech are currently licensed to serve alcohol from 6am - and these are “closely monitored by police”, said Sgt Bax.

If the licence variation is granted police recommend several conditions, including no sales of single cans of beer, lager or cider and signs in the “main local languages” to inform customers of this rule.

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