NEIGHBOURS fear more crime and anti-social behaviour if the council grants a new shop a drinks licence.

Shop owner Azizur Rahman applied to Brighton and Hove City Council for a licence for the premises – to be known as Montefiore Wines – in Montefiore Road, Hove.

Mr Rahman wanted to stay open until 11pm seven days a week but more than a dozen neighbours wrote to the council to object along with a nearby business and two councillors

Instead, Mr Rahman asked to be allowed to sell alcoholic drinks from 10am to 10pm every day.

The compromise – and a pledge not sell strong beer and cider – prompted two Labour councillors, John Allcock and Jackie O’Quinn, who represent Goldsmid ward, to withdraw their objections.

Neighbouring business owner Jake Sharpstone told a council licensing panel on Monday that the new shop could lead to an increase in crime and “proxy sales” to under-age drinkers.

Mr Sharpstone told the panel, made up of three councillors, how he had redesigned his shop Happy Planet and trained staff on dealing with crime after an armed robbery and shoplifting.

Teenagers walking home from school and college tried to buy alcohol and cigarettes using false ID or asked nearby adults, he said.

The Argus: Neighbours fear crime and disorder link to the new off-licenceNeighbours fear crime and disorder link to the new off-licence

Mr Sharpstone added: “We’ve worked very hard over many years to achieve what we’ve achieved.

“I think it would be a struggle for someone to open up a new shop and not have all the problems we’ve had over the last 10 to 15 years.”

Neighbour Nic Roe was also concerned about more crime and the risk of under-age alcohol sales. He said: “There are a number of school children who use Montefiore Road as a cut-through.

“The addition of another off-licence could make it appealing for young children to pay adults to get them to buy cigarettes or alcohol.

“I’ve been approached by teenagers asking if I can help them buy alcohol or cigarettes. They’ve offered me cash and, of course, my answer is no.”

He was also concerned about more traffic and footfall and people buying alcohol to drink in nearby St Ann’s Well Gardens.

Mr Rahman’s agent Oisin Daly, managing director of Easy Licences, said that installing security cameras outside the shop helped monitor proxy sales where youngsters asked adults to buy booze.

He told the panel that the application was in line with the council’s licensing policy and neither the council’s licensing department nor Sussex Police objected to the application.

Mr Rahman agreed to a proposal by Green councillor Lizzie Deane, who chaired the licensing panel today, to limit alcohol to 15 per cent of the products available in the shop.

Councillor Deane also suggested renaming the venue Montefiore Foods to shift the focus away from alcohol.

The panel retired to make its decision which should be made public within five working days.