Sunday, 4 September 2011

Off Sales.

The Licensing Committee of Wrecsam Council recently heard an application for a licence in respect of a Mini Market in Brook Street, Wrecsam. The application was to sell intoxicants between 0600 hours and 2300 hrs 7 days a week 365 days a year. The grant of the licence would have increased the number of such premises from 2 to 3. This Mini Market is situated directly across the road from Liquid Nightclub, Envy Nightclub and Chicago Rock and the Police strongly objected to the grant of the licence basically on the evidence of problems caused by the other two Mini Markets i.e. Preloading and anti social problems from alcohol being consumed on the street. The Licensing Committee refused the license based on 1) and 3) of the four licensing objectives below:

* the prevention of crime and disorder;
* public safety;
* the prevention of public nuisance;
* the protection of children from harm.

These are the only grounds on which a licence can be refused or revoked and it is particularly difficult to show that the grant of a new licence will lead to any of the above.

It was therefore particularly timely of Alcohol Concern to publish a report specifically highlighting public health problems link between underage drinking, hospital admissions and the number of off licences in an area.
Under current legislation, licensing committees do not take public health issues into account when approving applications. Alcohol Concern's chief executive, Don Shenker, said: "The increase in hospital admissions among young drinkers is a cause of real concern and it is particularly worrying that the increased number and concentration of off-licences may be contributing to this. Local areas must have the ability to decide for themselves how many licensed premises they allow, rather than be obliged to grant new licences, as in the current system."

Don Shenker is absolutely right, the 2003 Licensing Act needs to be tightened up and an additional licensing objective of 'promoting public health' would go a long way towards greater control on the sale of alcohol.

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