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Crime fears over alcohol licence application

By Gurdip Thandi | Walsall | Crime | Published:

Worried residents fear crime and disorder will increase in a Walsall area if a shop is allowed to sell alcohol into the early hours of every morning.

Riga convenience store in West Bromwich Street, Caldmore, Walsall. PIC: Google Street View

Riga convenience store and off-licence, in West Bromwich Street, Caldmore, has applied for a new premises licence from Walsall Council that would permit alcohol sales from 8am until 3am, seven days a week.

The shop’s current licence allows it to stay open until midnight Mondays to Sundays and the authority’s licensing sub committee will consider the application on Tuesday.

But the proposal has sparked huge concern amongst the community with a dozen residents voicing their objections that permitting the extension would result in more anti-social behaviour in the area already plagued with issues.

Their fears have been echoed by ward councillors Sabina Ditta and Hajran Bashir, as well as the Walsall Pubwatch Scheme.

Nearby resident Shabir Abbas said: “Increasing the hours to this late will have detrimental affect on the surrounding residential amenities.

“Selling alcohol to the early hours of the morning will attract anti-social behaviour as well encouraging people to congregate even more in the Caldmore Green area in groups.

“This is a main road which serves residents dropping kids to the local mosque, it is not helped by a nearby off licence which also attracts a large number of visitors who also tend to congregate outside in groups which can also be intimidating.”

Another resident Deborah Pace said she was concerned that extended opening hours would result in increased traffic, parking problems, anti-social behaviour and customers being attracted from outside the area.

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She added: “All the above points will disrupt the lives of local residents, when people are trying to get a good night’s sleep.

“There are already alternatives outside of the residential areas, that are open 24 hours, that are less than half a mile away.”

Ward councillor Sabina Ditta said: “I object to the extended hours, we already have anti social behaviour issues in this area.

“Extended hours will increase to that. Also, there is a number of off licenses in this area, within walking distance, allowing extended hours will lead to competition and more applications for extended hours from others.

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“Many residents have objected and do not see the need for such late opening hours in a residential area.

“There are other options available for people that meet any needs they have.

“Constantly this area has issues of gang fights, speeding and driving of cars during the night, residents sleep is being affected, the last thing they want is more issues.”

In his application, shop boss Mohamed Jamal said a comprehensive CCTV system will be installed to cover all the public areas of the premises with footage made available to authorities at any time.

He added that litter picking exercises will be carried out twice a day and signs will be erected to discourage inappropriate parking in the vicinity.

Appropriate training will be given to all staff and a Challenge 25 policy will be adopted to prevent under-age sales.

Gurdip Thandi

By Gurdip Thandi
@Gurdo

Local Democracy Reporter covering Walsall.

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