To receive and consider the attached report of the Chief Officer, Elections and Regulatory
The Sub-Committee received the report of the Chief Officer Elections and Regulatory regarding the application to grant a Premises Licence for Off Licence, 6 - 8 Town Street, Armley, Leeds, LS12 3AB
In attendance were:
The Legal Officer outlined the procedure.
The Licensing Officer presented the application, highlighting the following points:
The applicant had provided the following additional details which were noted by the committee:
· An appointed solicitor had filled out the original application form and the applicant was content for the opening hours to be amended further to 20:00.
· The shop was Romanian specific with stock primarily consisting of traditional Romanian goods for Romanian people. An estimated 95% of the products were outlined to be Romanian and non-Romanian people will likely not know or desire to purchase them.
· The shop had been operating since October 2022 and as unique Romanian goods were on offer it had attracted customers from outside of the locality of Armley, as far as Bradford and Harrogate, displaying that people will travel for the bespoke goods.
· Eastern European shops are often mixed, selling Polish or Bulgarian products together, for example. The alcohol proposed for sale will be of 100% Romanian origin which was perceived to have limited impact, given the CIP as this type of alcohol is not well recognised amongst the general population, whereas the more recognisable brands of alcohol were available for purchase within the locality.
· The shop had invested in a CCTV system, with several cameras in place, available over a 30-day timeframe for the Council or Police, if required.
· The shop will not be serving alcohol to anyone under the age of 18 years old.
· The application had been made due to customer enquiry, asking for Romanian alcohol to purchase alongside barbeque products which make up a significant amount of the shops sales. The sale of alcohol will also assist with keeping the shop in business.
· A similar bespoke Romanian shop in Harehills was noted to have a license for the sale of alcohol which the shop in Armley was losing business against as customers are able to purchase all the Romanian products they need in one place.
In response to question posed to the Applicant, Members were provided with the following information:
The following objectors addressed the Sub-Committee:
West Yorkshire Police
Grant of the application would be inconsistent with the CIP and work against the licensing objectives. The hours applied for exceed the hours of similar shops in the locality and approval will contribute to daytime street drinking as alcoholics will not be concerned as to what type of alcohol they consume. With no measures demonstrated in the application to limit the impact to the CIP and only standard proposals for enforcing no sale to under 18s and CCTV there was unsatisfactory consideration of the licensing objectives and CIP and the application was requested to be refused.
As a PSCO with 10 years of experience patrolling the area and the scale of public and responsible authority objection, the overall picture of public nuisance caused by daytime drinking on Armley Town Street was negative for the community. Data showed the trend in crime for the area was decreasing, due to effort from authorities and the public and there is need for this trend to continue. Large groups of drunk males still occur in the area, impacting on the amenity and safety of local residents which had been displayed by the community objection to any more premises approved to sell alcohol. The 25 public representations in objection was noted to be a significant number but from communication with residents, a greater amount of objection was outlined, outside of the formal consultation process. Some of the problem drinkers travel from outside of the area, mostly from the city centre, to access cheaper alcohol, often pooling money together. Due to the community effort noted to reduce issues, a step back in the wrong direction was not a desirable outcome.
With previous experience working within the community in Armley and also the development of child protection polices, awareness for the issues experience in the area were outlined, particularly those posed to young people by the environment and community they reside in. The public objection has noted the concerns that alcohol has on the area, posing distress for families and children which contributes to normalising heavy alcohol consumption during the day. The area had a dense population of young families and as children have developing brains and can have a lack of understanding of the negative side to alcohol, being exposed to addiction impacts their cognitive development. Children living in areas of deprivation are 5 times more likely to be exposed to alcoholism. Grant of a new alcohol license in the area will create another supply route for availability and if an alcoholic is denied service at one shop, another may allow the sale. All initiatives and ambitions to reduce harm to young people should be sought; a sense of community is essential for wellbeing which street drinking, litter, broken glass, public urination, and intimidation negatively impacts. Police, charities and the community had been working well to improve the area and the increased accessibility for alcohol works in opposition to the concerns in Armley.
Although sympathetic to the applicant and success of their business, the main priority is to allow residents to feel safe in their area, which requires stricter access to alcohol. The situation had improved through Police and community efforts; however, open street drinking was still occurring regularly, and constant policing was not a practical method due to available resources. As a resident of Armley for over 20 years a well-versed account of the needs of the area was outlined and the intimidating nature of street drinkers had limited the ability to socialise with friends outside of the home.
Elected Ward Member - Councillor Louisa Cunningham
The CIP was noted to have had a positive impact and was deemed an appropriate measure to target street drinking issues. The public objection expressed safety issues and fear of crime in the area so allowing more shops to sell alcohol goes against the Police and community work. Multi agency projects, including Public Health and Forward Leeds, offering help to addicts were ongoing to reduce the issues noted in the area. Encouragement for businesses not offering alcohol, increasing the variety of shops on Armley Town Street will alleviate the easy access to alcohol and benefit the community. The ‘Keep Armley Tidy Group’ run regular litter picks and note cans and bottles to be the most common littered item.
The importance of following the CIP for proper management of an area, in line with the licensing objectives, was stressed and if the application was outside of the CIP it would likely be welcomed business. Since the CIP was established in 2018, street drinking problems had continued, however it had mitigated some issues. During the Covid-19 pandemic, causing most shops to close or reduce hours, issues on Armley Town Street had reduced, showing the positive effect of limiting alcohol accessibility. Crime rates were noted to be increasing to pre-pandemic levels since restrictions were lifted with the Alcohol Licensing Data Matrix, detailed from page 128 of the report pack, showing the CIP area to pose the 2nd highest risk for licensed premises and associated anti-social behaviour, after the city centre. The Armley CIP was small and specific for Town Street and Branch Road, with the premises central to this area. Grant of a license will be in opposition to the ongoing agency work as the area still poses a high level of concern for public safety and wellbeing.
The objection had been made due to the CIP, if the premises was outside this area then it would not pose such concern. Noise complaints regarding disruptive drunk people were regularly received, the department aims to prevent public nuisance which is not restricted to a single shop or establishment. As a statuary consultee there is no power for Environmental Health to deal with the issues afterwards if the application were granted.
The Applicant provided a summary of their case, outlining they did not perceive that one more shop will impact the area greatly as alcohol is available elsewhere with three shops with an alcohol license in the immediate locality. The applicant noted 90% of their customers were Romanian, largely from outside Armley and refusal of the application would not solve the overarching issues. As neighbouring properties hold a license, this will impact on the profitability of their business. Education, particularly for young people, was noted to be the way to reduce the alcohol associated issues for the area. The importance of developing people’s respect for the area is key, not forbidding or restricting business.
The Licensing Sub Committee considered all the information provided to them by the responsible authorities, residents and applicant, and regarded the 2003 Licensing Act. The Cumulative Impact Policy and the promotion of the licencing objectives were also considered.
RESOLVED: That the application to grant a Premises Licence for Off Licence, 6 - 8 Town Street, Armley, Leeds, LS12 3AB be refused.