New off-licence 'not needed'
Dominic Bareham PLAYGROUP staff fear they could have to deal with increasing alcohol-related crime after a neighbouring shop was granted a licence to sell alcohol.Jacqueline Studley, senior practitioner at Penguin Pre-School, feared her Caister Road school in Great Yarmouth could be targeted by drunks buying alcohol from Caister Road Convenience Stores.
PLAYGROUP staff fear they could have to deal with increasing alcohol-related crime after a neighbouring shop was granted a licence to sell alcohol.
Jacqueline Studley, senior practitioner at Penguin Pre-School, feared her Caister Road school in Great Yarmouth could be targeted by drunks buying alcohol from Caister Road Convenience Stores.
The store was given permission to supply alcohol throughout the week between 6am and 11.30pm by the borough council's licensing sub-committee on Monday .
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Mrs Studley said her playgroup for children aged between two-and-a-half and four years old had had problems with break ins and even drug needles being left in the school's grounds.
She added there were already off licences nearby in Salisbury Road and Northgate Street and she could not understand why the area needed another.
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She said: “I am not happy at all. I think it is an absolute disgrace. We have got an off licence on Salisbury Road and one on Northgate Street, so why do we need another one?
“What concerns me is having people who have got nothing else to do but drink all day hanging around outside the play school. We could get people hanging around at night and during the day.”
The sub-committee received objections from four residents as well as two petitions against the licensing application and a letter from Northgate Community Association.
These warned of increased drink-fuelled anti-social behaviour if the licence was granted, especially around a nearby bushy area which was already a regular haunt for drinkers. There were also fears for the safety of children attending both the pre-school and nearby Northgate St Andrews School.
Paul Cooper, secretary of Newtown Methodist Church, represented the objectors at the meeting and spoke of his fears children could be subjected to alcohol-related incidents as would parishioners visiting his church.
He said: “As far as the church is concerned we have got over 60s and people who visit the church on a Thursday evening. Their fears may be irrational, but the fear is there. They have a fear of drunk people walking the streets.”
But Alan Aylott, representing applicant Nadarajan Logeswaran, said his client had been in the licensed trade for six years and had previously held a licence to sell alcohol under the old magistrates court system before the Licensing Act 2003 transferred responsibility to local councils.
Mr Aylott added the police would have objected to the application if they feared it was likely to cause problems with alcohol-related crime, but Mr Logeswaran could not be held responsible for crime that was “beyond his control”.
“He has managed to obtain a licence under the old system where his fitness was never in doubt. He has never been in trouble with the authorities and has shops in London and Norwich. He has a good track record in management,” Mr Aylott said.
He added: “He is in all respects an honest, upright and responsible member of the community and is a fit and proper person to hold a licence.”
Mr Logeswaran said customers had asked why he did not sell alcohol as well as the other food and confectionery available at his shop. He added the alcohol would only occupy 25pc of the space available at his store.
His shop already has CCTV internally, but the sub-committee added a condition to the licensing approval that extra CCTV be installed outside to deter potential criminals.