Sixth West Street off licence granted despite street drinking concerns

The proposed site of a new off licence in West Street.
The proposed site of a new off licence in West Street.
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Councillors have allowed a sixth off licence to open in West Street despite strong concerns from residents and businesses.

Senthilnataal Periyasamy will be allowed to sell alcohol 24 hours a day from a convenience store at number 111.

Sheffield Council's three-man committee granted the premises licence today, despite worries about the impact the shop would have on street drinking and crime.

Members did insist a fridge cabinet containing beer and cider was locked behind a glass curtain at all times to deter would-be thieves.

They imposed conditions relating to staff training, security and monitoring of refusals of sale.

And councillors also insisted customers were challenged for identification up to the age of 25, rather than the proposed 21.

Several objectors spoke at the meeting. Peter Sephton, chairman of Sheffield City Centre Residents Action Group, or SCCRAG, read anecdotal evidence from business owners and residents about the problems caused by street drinkers in West Street.

He identified incidents of abuse, violence and aggression from people drunk on high-strength alcohol during the day.

Mr Sephton said a sixth off licence would only exacerbate the problems.

He referred back to June 2016 when the council approved a licence for Aslan Go Local, which became the fifth off licence in West Street. At the time, Mr Sephton said, the council 'promised' to look into a cumulative impact policy, or CIP, which would gather evidence to help judge future applications.

"Until the CIP has been completed, any new application should be deferred," he said.

Tibor Killi, of TL Killi's cleaning supply shop, and Emma Mohan, of Day Lewis Pharmacy, highlighted various incidents of drunks coming into their shop and being aggressive, stealing or simply falling asleep and refusing to move.

Both said staff members had been threatened by drunks on their way to work in the morning.

"I feel very strongly about shops selling alcohol," said Mr Killi. "The consideration of health and safety of the general public has got to be taken into account, with all these drunk people creating all these problems."

Resident Steve Lee, also part of SCCRAG, questioned whether the legislation - which requires evidence a new premises would cause harm for a licence to be refused - was of any help.

"It seems that this application is a fait accompli because there is no CIP," he said.

"You can't prove that the new applicant would make any difference to the existing situation."

He also raised concerns about the safety of young children living around West Street.

And city centre ward councillor Douglas Johnson said there was a lack of information in the application.

"Frankly it's sloppy," he said. "It's a very poor quality application."

Mr Periyasamy's solicitor Patrick Robson highlighted his client's good record running four shops in his hometown of Chester.

He said none of the objectors had been able to provide evidence the new off licence would make things any worse in West Street, and there was no objection from the police.

And when questioned by the council's solicitor, Mr Periyasamy said he would put in place measures to ensure staff were not left alone and alcohol was not sold to drunk or underage people.

"We have to treat all customers equally. But if they are drunk then we won't serve them," he said.

Objectors have 21 days to appeal the decision to Sheffield Magistrates' Court.

The other five shops with licences to sell alcohol in West Street are Sothall News and Booze, Tesco Express, West St Off Licence, Bargain Beers and Aslan Go Local.

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