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Brighton store could lose its licence over sales to street drinkers
A hospital consultant faces losing his secondary income as an off-licence owner after his store staff were accused of fuelling a gang of street drinkers with super-strength alcohol.
Wahid Ibrahim could lose his licence to sell alcohol next week as a council review decides on his suitability to remain as the owner of B&W Stores in York Place, Brighton.
The review is the first in Sussex to be brought by fellow retailers and residents who say they are fed-up with a gang of up to 20 street drinkers fuelled by super-strength lager bought at B&W becoming involved in antisocial behaviour, threatening traders and fighting in the street.
Mr Ibrahim told The Argus yesterday that he was being unfairly “targeted” by council officials, and that ten employees would lose their livelihood if the shop was to close.
Police say that the store sold alcohol to an under-15 in October during a police operation, while in March last year Mr Ibrahim was spoken to by police officers after a street drinker was sold alcohol while drunk.
In May, a man holding two cans of Special Brew was arrested following a brutal assault of a fellow street drinker with baseball bats and a knife.
Most shockingly, in recent weeks staff at Pixies Nursery in Ditchling Road found two naked street drinkers having sex on the grass outside St Peter’s Church at 10.30am, preventing the nursery from taking children outside to play.
Beata Wetkowska, owner of Lovely Look salon in York Place, said: “A few months ago there was a fight involving a bottle and they smashed my window and it cost me £250 of my own money to replace it.
“They sleep outside here and use next door’s empty shop door as a toilet. We sometimes have to wash our front step in the morning because they have been there too.”
Matt Henry, who opened One Eyed Jacks gallery next door to B&W in October, said he had to call police up to three times a day, had witnessed at least eight fights including violent incidents with baseball bats, and had been assaulted himself.
He said “The intimidation grinds you down and it has had an enormous effect on my business and my quality of life.
“For a gallery, people want to stop and look at my window before deciding to come on in but when there are five or six people rowing and shouting outside, everybody just wants to get away as quickly as possible.”
Mr Wahid, who is a private gynaecology and obstetrics consultant, said his shop voluntarily stopped selling super-strength alcohol at the start of July but street drinkers still gathered around St Peter’s Place.
He said: “It is an endemic social problem. They are blaming the whole problem of Brighton on B&W. Why don’t they go after Special Brew manufacturers, where is AA? “If they can’t buy super-strength alcohol in London Road they will just go somewhere else.
“I am not here trying to make a big profit, I am just trying to make ends meet and pay my employees, but they want this place boarded up and ten people unemployed.”
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