The report of the Chief Officer Elections and Regulatory requests Members consideration on an application for the grant of a premises licence made by Sabir Doski for an Off Licence, situated at 152 Town Street, Armley, Leeds, LS12 3RF.
The Chief Officer Elections and Regulatory submitted a report for Members consideration on an application for the grant of a premises licence made by Sabir Doski for an Off Licence, situated at 152 Town Street, Armley, Leeds, LS12 3RF.
Attending the meeting were:
The Legal officer explained the procedure for the hearing.
It was outlined that a petition received from the objectors had not met the requirements for submission and videos taken regarding allegations for the illegal sale of cigarettes at the premises had not been seen by all parties at the meeting so was not able to be used as evidence. Furthermore, the applicant’s representative objected to any further documentation or evidence to be tabled during the meeting as there was insufficient time to address the contents. Members were advised that the videos had not been sent to Entertainment Licensing in an accessible format within the prescribed timescale, so it was Member’s discretion as to how much weight they will give to the allegations without the provided evidence and also that the petition had no header providing the grounds for signing. Page 32 and 33 of the supplementary pack had detailed the applicant team’s response to the allegations and video evidence and had requested to see its contents but had not been able to. The objectors noted the evidence was to be sent to WYP and Trading Standards.
The Licensing Officer presented the application informing the Members of the following points:
· The application was for the grant of a new license for the sale by retail of alcohol for consumption off the premises, every day 08:00 – 22:00. It was noted at 2.1 of the cover report that an application for the grant of a new premises licence for these premises was considered by the Licensing Sub Committee in November 2022 due to the receipt of public representations and was subsequently refused.
· The premises was a convenience store, proposing the sale of alcohol for consumption off the premises, to supplement stock.
· An operating schedule had been submitted, detailed from page 159 of the report pack and additional information had been submitted by the applicant which was available in the supplementary information pack.
· An agreement had been reached with WYP, conditioning no delivery service, details of this were available at appendix C. Six objections had been received by other persons on the grounds of crime and disorder, these were available at appendix D. A list of other licensed premises in the locality were detailed at appendix E.
The applicant’s representatives provided the Sub-Committee with the following information:
· There had been no objections by responsible authorities, only a prior agreement reached with WYP. Approval alongside the WYP conditions was sought.
· The premises was an existing convenience store and the previous application had been submitted by a different person. Point 1.17 of the Licensing Act 2003 noted each application should be judged on its own merits.
· The shop sold food and the alcohol license was to supplement stock to allow customers to access a one stop shop. A petition of support was available from pages 28 to 31 in the supplementary pack.
· The applicant had resided in Leeds since 2003, had held a personal license since 2005 and had worked for Leeds City Council from 2004 to 2008. They had also studied customer relations management as part of their Masters’ degree.
· The sale of alcohol was for off site consumption and there were no deliveries proposed and as per section 182 guidance, this model of sale was acceptable unless good reason for refusal were determined.
· Notable proposed conditions from the operation schedule were, CCTV from points 2 to 12 and also 27, staff training 28 to 30, restrictions to stock and stock placement at 14 and 15 and litter mitigation at 24 and 25. The comprehensive operating schedule displayed that the shop will be run in line with the licensing objectives.
· The applicant noted they would not continue to run the shop should the application be refused.
· Pre-application consultation had occurred, which was detailed from pages 3 to 15 of the supplementary pack, with no objections raised by responsible authorities. A copy of the sub lease had been provided to WYP as the leaseholder was the applicant for the previous application.
· The premises was outside the Armley CIA, and the petition detailed from page 28 to 31 of the supplementary pack noted public support.
· To address the concerns raised in the public objection comments, it was outlined that some were business focused submitted by people with competing businesses in the local area, there was no evidence for anti-social behaviour stemming from the premises, the store had only been in the applicants possession since July 2023, no litter or fly tipping was associated with the store, the concentration of nearby premises was a matter for planning and market determination, there was no evidence for sales to young people or for the illegal cigarette sale allegations and the Thwaites Case outlined that applications should be judges against their merit and with evidence.
Responding to questions from Members the Sub-Committee were informed of the following by the applicant team:
· The only relationship the DPS had with the previous applicant was through the sub lease and only one member of staff remained from the previous management.
· The support petition was from store users, believed to live in the locality. The Licensing Officer outlined that the names and addresses on the petition had been redacted in line with GPDR and anyone is able to object or support an application irregardless of location.
· The applicant or representative had not seen the video regarding the illegal sale of cigarettes at the premises and were prepared to take necessary action if it came to light.
The objectors addressed the Sub-Committee providing the Members with the following information:
Public Objector 1
· As a local business owner and having resided in Armley for 15 years, the area and issues regarding crime and anti-social behaviour were well known.
· Engagement with local youths was ongoing to address issues of anti-social behaviour and improve the community.
· Objection was against further provision for sale of alcohol in the area and its association with crime and disorder.
· The store should remain a newsagent and there was no benefit for the sale of alcohol for the community, with several similar shops selling alcohol within a 1.5 mile radius.
· Elderly people felt intimidated by anti-social behaviour that occurred outside shops and often had to have their groceries delivered.
· The allegations for the illegal sale of cigarettes had led to illness in the community.
· The previous application had been refused and the applicant was from outside the area and did not know the full extent of the issues faced by the community.
· Counterfeit cigarettes had been sold by the previous owner, who was the lease holder, and it was believed that the counterfeits were still being sold at the premises under the new owner, with concerns raised counterfeit alcohol may be sold at the premises, if the license were approved.
Public Objector 2
· A letter of objection was read out on behalf of a local resident who was unable attend the meeting, details of this were available at page 174 of the report pack.
· Although this premises was outside the Armley CIA, it was close by to the border and will contribute to street drinking issues. It was also noted the boundaries of the CIA were to be reviewed in the future, alongside joined up community work to improve Town Street.
· Although the responsible authorities had not objected, the residents were experts in regard to the needs of the area and represented the community voice.
· The concentration of stores possessing an alcohol licensed was significant and any more will only contribute to the issues of anti-social behaviour and crime.
· A Police raid had been conducted at the premises and a Trading Standards investigation of the sale of illegal products was ongoing.
· Other shops in the area had an agreement to close earlier than licensed to in order to limit late night drinking and associated public disorder. These shops were noted to hold respect for their community and actively trying to improve the area.
· There had been more objection within the community against the application, but some had held fears of reprisal.
· With experience of working as a Nurse at the local community centre, working particularly with people experiencing alcohol and drug addiction, and associated trauma, the issues and complexity of the area were well known and distressing.
· Litter in the area was significant, with the bin provision noted to have limited effect and litter in the area will only increase with additional alcohol sales.
Public Objector 3
· On three occasions they had gone into the premises and had purchased under the counter, illegal, counterfeit cigarettes and had videoed the same person selling them each time. It was disappointing the video was unable to be considered by the Sub-Committee.
· Anti-social behaviour and abuse by intimidating youths was threatening to families and the area had significant issues which had gotten worse over time.
· There were already 5 shops, 3 pubs and a 24 hour shop on Town Street, so there was plenty of provision for alcohol and having further options will contribute to social issues, crime and disorder.
· There was lots of violence and knife crime in the area which was fuelled by the sale of cheap alcohol and was ruining the community.
Public Objector 4
· The community was tired of working towards bettering the area for issues then to re-emerge in cycles.
· Raising families in the area was difficult and also whilst working with young people to engage with them to encourage better social outcomes.
· In their spare time they worked as a cricket and football coach, and it was noted youth services were unfunded in the area which led to a significant amount of anti-social behaviour. They also worked to assist the elderly within the community.
· The community was diverse, comprised of a wide range of ages, faiths and businesses and suffered from deprivation.
· It was disappointing the petition of objection could not be considered on a technicality and had taken time to produce, alongside peoples’ work commitments.
· Additional access to alcohol will have negative consequences for the community and people lived in fear of ongoing anti-social behaviour and criminal damage that was only worsened by alcohol.
· The applicant was from outside the locality and did not understand the extent of crime and disorder. The community would have attempted to lobby with WYP to address the impacts of this application if they had more time.
· Work had been conducted with local businesses to have earlier closing times for shops to discourage late night street drinking and also to provide meals for the less fortunate.
· Instances of loitering and nuisance will increase if more alcohol was available, as had been experienced outside all shops selling alcohol within the locality. It was noted that these individuals can be difficult to approach, although efforts had been made to offer charity and improve community cohesion.
· There were already a multitude of shops stocking alcohol within a 1.5 mile radius of the premises and although not directly covered by the CIA it was only 0.2 miles away and will negatively impact the on the issues the CIA was attempting to solve. The impact on recovering alcoholics was also significant.
· Local activism was beginning to feel futile with no support from responsible authorities or the Council.
· There were reports in the community of the premises selling counterfeit cigarettes, including to underage people and had been making people unwell. There was fear counterfeit alcohol will also be sold.
· There was suspicion that the applicant worked closely with the previous applicant and there was a clear relationship if the shop was being sub leased to them and raised further concerns that the applicant had reported they will no longer operate the shop if the application was refused. This had provided evidence the applicant did not have honest intentions for the area.
· Although the WYP Officers that deal with Licensing had not objected, conversations with Neighbourhood Police Officers had expressed concern.
· It was believed that counterfeit cigarettes had been sold from the premises on in July 2023, and thus was within the applicant’s responsibility to address this problem as the shop was in his ownership.
· Although the operating schedule noted staff training and a challenge 25 policy, it was alluded that the shop did sell cigarettes to underage people.
Responding to questions from Members the following information was provided by the objectors:
· The proposed CCTV and staff training operations provided little reassurance as Town Street was a 2 mile stretch, central to the community with lots of street drinking, yet most of the associated crime took place on side streets, away from any CCTV cameras.
· The videos associated to the illegal cigarette sales had been done within the individuals own capacity. It was believed that this was associated with the applicant and some staff members at the shop and showed disregard for the community.
· The applicant was perceived to have involvement with the previous applicant for the refused November 2022 application and appeared to be a front for the business with the previous applicant sub leasing the premises.
· Although the premises was outside the CIA, it was still associated with anti-social behaviour and licensed premises needed to be limited across the area, when considering the broader picture and the negative social impacts.
· The store had operated as a newsagent for over 30 years and an alcohol license was not necessary or appropriate for the area.
· With other licensed stores agreeing to close earlier and provision already substantial, it was clear there was no benefit to more alcohol provision and doubt was casted that this premises will consider community impact.
· Although extension of the CIA was being considered, the Licensing Officer provided information that it was not up for review in 2023, was predominantly targeted at street drinking around betting shops a distance away from the premises and any extension will be evidence based and require consultation.
In summing up the applicant’s representative outlined the following:
· It was perceived that objector 1’s comments were business based and objected to competition.
· A letter had been sent to WYP detailing that the previous applicant had no involvement with the business further to the sub leasing.
· The illegal sale of counterfeit cigarettes had not been under the current applicant and the objectors had 10 days’ notice to provide an accessible video. If it was to come to light that it was a current employee, they will be dismissed.
· All applications should be judged against their own merit, and it was noted the premises was outside the CIA so weight to this policy was not applicable.
· The applicant was a professional, well educated individual.
· Pre-application liaison had taken place and the supporting petition showed community support from customers.
· The operating schedule was substantial and comprehensive.
· No objections had been received from responsible authorities.
· The needs of an area were a matter for planning and market influence.
· The Thwaites case outlined the need for refusal to be evidence based.
RESOLVED – To grant the application as applied for, subject to the measures suggested by West Yorkshire Police.