Brighton & Hove’s Licensing Panel yesterday (Monday, 28 October) approved a new alcohol licence for the Co-Op store at 268-272 Portland Road, Hove from 8am to 8pm daily.
The applicant, the Southern Co-Operative Group applied to sell alcohol from 8am to 11pm every day, but the Panel decided to restrict the hours until 8pm after taking into consideration the representation of Director of Public Health Tom Scanlon who spoke about the need to reduce the availability of alcohol at night to combat pre-loading and binge drinking.
Dr Scanlon highlighted that there is considerable proxy purchasing from off-licences for underage drinkers, despite the best efforts of responsible retailers. He also noted that the location was close to supported accommodation for young people.
He also asked the applicant to sign up to the city’s ‘Sensible on Strength’ campaign by agreeing not to sell super-strength alcohol.
The Southern Co-Operative Limited had agreed not to sell or store super-strength alcohol after the council’s licensing authority contacted the company. It has three outlets in Brighton & Hove and already has a condition on the other two stores (at Sussex University and Western Road, Brighton) not to sell beer, cider or lager with an alcohol by volume (abv) of more than 6%.
Councillor Stephanie Powell, who chaired the Panel, said: “We listened very carefully to all the representations, took into consideration national and local policy and looked at the application on its individual merits.
“The Panel considered the location is a mixed commercial and residential area where local consultation has shown that additional alcohol licences are not desirable unless there are exceptional circumstances.
“We took into account Southern Co-Operative’s good record of responsible alcohol sales, the fact that they consulted with Sussex Police and their willingness to voluntarily not sell or store super-strength lager, beer or cider in this and their other stores.
“However, we were also concerned that alcohol sales after 8pm could adversely affect crime and disorder and the protection of children, and that this store is close to accommodation for vulnerable young people. Therefore we decided to grant a licence, but only until 8pm.”
Also on the panel were councillor Penny Gilbey and councillor Lynda Hyde.
Licensing and trading standards officers at Brighton & Hove City Council are working with Sussex Police to develop a voluntary scheme for off-licences where they can join together to limit the availability of super-strength alcohol in the city.
The ‘Sensible on Strength’ scheme aims to encourage licensed businesses to voluntarily stop selling beer, lager and cider above 6% alcohol by volume (abv) and put in place other good practice measures including a refusals system, CCTV and documented training.
A report on the proposal will be brought to the next Licensing Committee on 21 November.