5 Feb 2016

MK Convenience Store, alcohol license approved

I reported previously on my objections to an alcohol license application for 391 Borough Road. I attended the hearing on January 21st. I am disappointed that a license has been granted albeit with certain additional conditions.

The hearing report is copied below:

Dear Councillor Cleary,


I refer to the Licensing Act 2003 Sub-Committee held on 21 January 2016.

In determining the application the Licensing Act 2003 Sub-Committee had regard to the Licensing Objectives, the Council's Statement of Licensing Policy and the Statutory Guidance issued under section 182 of the Licensing Act 2003.

Members of the Licensing Act 2003 Sub-Committee had regard to the submissions made on behalf of the applicant by Mr Craig, and had regard to the representations made by the responsible authorities including Public Health, Environmental Health and Trading Standards. Members also had regard to a representation submitted by Councillor Pat Cleary, Ward Councillor, on behalf of local residents and a written representation submitted by a resident.

In determining the matter, Members gave consideration to the measures proposed by the applicant within the application.

In his submission, Mr Craig, set out that the applicant was prepared to amend the application to include further conditions to address the concerns expressed by the parties, in particular, the sale of alcohol to street drinkers, sale of alcohol to persons under the age of 18, the sale of cheap super strength alcohol, the competency of individuals involved in the sale of alcohol at the premises and the times during which alcohol would be sold at the premises.

Members heard from Trading Standards, Environmental Health and Public Health regarding their lack of confidence that alcohol could be sold responsibly at these premises. This view had been formed following a visit to the premises by Environmental Health and Trading Standards on 8 November 2015 when the applicant had demonstrated a lack of understanding of the requirements of the Licensing Act 2003. Having heard the submissions of Mr Craig on behalf of the

Applicant, Officers indicated that it was evident that the applicant had progressed in her understanding of her responsibilities attached to the sale of alcohol. Officers accepted that the Applicant was willing to undertake training to address both the gaps in her knowledge and to ensure that any employees at the premises were trained in the sale of alcohol.  Members were informed that the applicant had a place on a training course, due to be delivered by Trading Standards, relating to underage sales, on 26 January 2016.

Evidence was submitted to Members that the premises is located in very close proximity to the YMCA, which provides a controlled drinking environment for street drinkers. Members were also advised that the premises is surrounded by several hot spots for alcohol fuelled violence. It was the view of each of the Responsible Authorities that there is demand for individuals working at the premises to exercise a high level of competency when involved in the sale of alcohol at these particular premises.

In determining the application, Members had particular regard to the fact that the Responsible Authorities, having made representations regarding the management of the premises and their concerns that the licensing objectives were not being upheld were satisfied that through training and the willingness of the applicant to engage with all parties including the YMCA and Merseyside Police that their concerns could be addressed. Their concerns were further addressed in consequence of the applicant's willingness not to sell cheap super strength alcohol.

Members therefore resolved to grant the application with the following hours:

Sale by Retail of Alcohol

Sunday to Saturday        09:00 to 22:00

Hours Open to the Public

Sunday to Saturday        07:00 to 23:00

The Licensing Act 2003 Sub-Committee determined that in addition to the appropriate conditions proposed in the Operating Schedule the following conditions be applied to the licence:

Any person working at the premises, must hold a minimum of a level 1 accredited qualification relating to the sale of alcohol to underage persons, or equivalent before being involved in the sale of alcohol at the premises.

Refresher training must be undertaken at least every 6 months. Written records of this training must be kept at the premises and made available to an Authorised Officer upon request.

The premises must maintain a refusals log book recording both challenges and refusals in respect of the sale of alcohol. An incident book must also be kept.  These log books must be made available on request to an Authorised Officer to ensure that they are being used.

Beer, lager or cider with an ABV above 6.5%, in plastic bottles or cans, must not be sold at the premises.

Beer, lager or cider must not be sold in single cans.

No sale of alcohol must be made to customers who are known street drinkers.

A till prompt system, to be agreed with the Licensing Authority,  must be implemented and maintained at the premises in order to alert staff to check the age of any purchaser attempting to purchase alcohol.

In determining the matter Members have also taken into account Section 11 of the Guidance in respect of the review mechanism provided by the Licensing Act 2003 when problems associated with the Licensing Objectives occur after the grant of a Premises Licence.

4 Feb 2016

Council still failing residents over Conway Street land

I've written before about land on Conway Street, Birkenhead opposite Europe Pools. This was stupidly sold off by Wirral Council in 2014 and the new owner completely trashed the site last year as part of a failed bid to gain planning permission for a car park.

Nearby residents are naturally furious about this. To make matters worse the site has predictably become a magnet for litter and the owner - SIP Car Parks - is doing nothing about this.

I have therefore written to the council's head of regeneration demanding the council takes immediate steps to force the land owner to keep the site tidy and consider repurchasing the land via compulsory purchase. Here is an extract from my letter:

As you are aware in 2015 this land was dug up and all adjacent trees felled leaving it in a very sorry state and generating huge anger among local residents. This anger has intensified of late as no attempts to reinstate the land have been made and, even worse, it is now becoming a magnet for fly-tipping. Assorted rubbish on the land is not being cleared.

Given the appalling behaviour of the developer, the degree of public distress and the council's decision to sell the land in the first place this needs to be a priority for attention. Wirral Council needs to use every means at its disposal to force the landowner to behave responsibly. Consideration should also be given to compulsory purchase to return this land to public ownership so that it can be properly managed, not least given its strategic location.

I can only hope that lessons have been learned from the decision to sell the land in the first place and that the land owner's behaviour will be taken into account in the future.