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London Road off-licence faces drink ban after complaints from traders
An off-licence could be barred from selling alcohol over claims it is selling super-strength lager to street drinkers.
B and W Stores in York Place, Brighton, is to face a review of its alcohol license after neighbouring traders complained about the shop.
Traders are pushing for the council to restrict the off-licence from selling lager or beer of 5.5% or stronger and are also hoping for a three-month suspension of its licence as a warning to other retailers.
The review is the first of its kind in Sussex to be initiated by a local community group, the London Road Local Action Team, and is supported by Sussex Police and Brighton and Hove City Council’s trading standards with a review hearing to be held next month.
One trader said the store’s resistance to removing super-strength lagers from its shelves meant street drinkers headed to the store and then gathered in the area around York Place and St Peter’s Place.
Sussex Police’s licensing and public safety manager Jean Irving said members of the city council’s licensing committee had discussed the possibility of city-wide restrictions on the sale of super-strength lagers but said any restriction would rely on the cooperation of small traders across the city.
She added: “I don’t want to tar them all with the same brush, there are a lot of responsible retailers out there, but because of the recession we are finding more and more super-strength alcohol sold to street drinkers and that is a big concern for us.
“It’s not unusual to put a condition on a licence in an area where there are street drinkers to sell nothing over 5.5% or not to sell them in single cans.
“There is apparently a new drink coming in which is about 8% and 50p a can; these are the ones we have to stop.”
London Road trader Anne Townsend said the move against irresponsible offlicences was coupled with a zero tolerance approach to petty theft in the area.
She said: “The figures suggest that there isn’t a lot of crime, but it’s because people don’t report it.
“From now on, all crime in London Road will be reported, the stats will go up and hopefully we will get more police on patrol.”
Chairman of the council’s licensing committee Councillor Stephanie Powell said: “There have been complaints from traders and residents about sales of super-strength lagers, beers and ciders being a contributor towards antisocial behaviour in the area.
“There is already a voluntary agreement in London Road with B and W unfortunately being the only one still selling super-strength.
“We have also established voluntary agreements in St James’s Street and many other parts of the city, persuading people not to sell.
“We are working on a city-wide accreditation scheme which would enable sellers to advertise themselves as responsible retailers in return for, among other things, agreeing not to sell super-strength beers and ciders.”
B and W failed to respond to requests for a comment.
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