Councillors’ conditions for store launch rejected

Store owners have been warned about attempts to implement ‘ridiculous’ clauses onto alcohol license applications following a hearing in Liverpool

Court hearing law

On 8 August, Liverpool City Council’s Licensing & Gambling Sub-Committee considered an application for a convenience store on Boaler Street by Suresh Ponnampalam.

Three councillors, including council leader Liam Robinson, proposed a ban on any alcohol line above 4.5% from being sold, mandatory minimum unit pricing, for the retailer to regularly clean the street outside the store, and to label every product sold so litter or incidents could be traced back to the shop.

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Despite Robinson dubbing the area  ‘a crime and anti-social behaviour hot spot’, no representations were made by the police or any other public body.

A representative for Ponnampalam successfully rebutted the conditions mentioned above and secured the alcohol license. However,  former police officer and Licensing Matters director Gill Sherratt told Better Retailing that the meeting highlights the unfair conditions stores can be landed with, especially if they lack expert representation.

Labelling the councillors’ suggestions as “absolutely ridiculous”, she explained, “these types of restrictions in my opinion should only come as a request from the police for starters. A councillor is not in the position to be requiring such heavy restrictions like this.”

Sherratt added that ID tagging products was “a complete waste of time” and are no longer used by police forces or authorities, because it is still not possible to prove the shop was responsible for any related incidents. While some UK countries have legislated to introduce minimum unit pricing, the licensing expert described attempts by councils to add similar conditions were “completely unlawful”.

At the proposed 4.5% strength limit, bestselling beers such as Stella Artois and Heineken would be banned. The limit was also described as “far too low”, with 6.5% or 7.5% limits on beers and ciders the standard in councils that do impose strength restrictions.

Both Sherratt and former licensing consultant Chris Mitchener described the proposed conditions as an attempt to place police and council responsibilities upon retailers. “You shouldn’t send [shop owners] out with a broom if you want the road swept,” Mitchener commented.

Mitchener advised: “The conditions have to be relevant, proportionate and enforceable.”

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