Police warn street drinkers will ‘loiter’ at new Wisbech out-of-town store if it can sell single cans of alcohol

THE street drinking culture that blights Wisbech town centre will move out to the edge of town if a new business is allowed to sell single cans of alcohol, police warned this week.

Family Bargains – owned by 99p Stores Ltd – is planning to open up on the Tesco site at Cromwell Road, once Tesco is re-sited.

Although the new household store is not even built, the company has already applied for a premises licence to sell alcohol from 8am to 11pm every day of the week.

Reporting to Fenland District Council’s licensing committee that is due to meet on Monday, Sgt Dave Bax has expressed concerns over the store’s plan to sell single cans or bottles of beer, lager or cider.

At present, there is an alcohol control zone - a designated public place order – in Wisbech town centre, and Sgt Bax fears that street drinkers will be drawn from the centre of town to the new store, in order to buy single drinks.

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“The police fear that once the local street drinkers realise they can buy single cans and bottles from this store, and there is no restriction on consuming it, the DPPO issues will be displaced to the Cromwell retail area,” he warned.

“The current street drinkers would see this as an opportunity to loiter and drink and get away with it, as there would be no powers for the police to intervene.”

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Family Bargains say that single bottles are one of its best sellers, although it has agreed not to sell high strength cheap cider.

The company has agreed to some conditions on its licence, but has not accepted the police’s requirement of banning the sale of single units of beer, cider or lager, and or banning alcohol over 5.5% ABV.

Family Bargains says its Wisbech store would only stay open until 11pm “in exceptional circumstances,” and expects to close between 5.30pm and 8pm on weekdays, and 4pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

The company stated: “As the company does not buy alcohol in bulk quantities, it has to sell the product at typically higher retail prices compared with main supermarkets.”

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