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Agenda item

Application for the Variation of a Premises Licence - MRH Stonebridge, Stonebridge Service Station, Durham


Members: Councillor C Carr (Chairman), P Atkinson and M Wilson


The Committee considered the report of the Corporate Director of Regeneration and Local Services regarding an application for the variation in respect of MRH Stonebridge, Stonebridge Service Station (for copy of report, see file of minutes).


A copy of the application and location plan had been circulated together with copies of the representation received and responses from responsible authorities.


The Senior Licensing Officer presented the report and advised Members that the variation was to include the sale of alcohol for consumption off the premises 24-hours daily and to include two conditions and to make alterations to the premises.


Durham County Council’s Local Safeguarding Children Board, Durham County Council’s Environmental Health Department, County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service responded to the consultation with no comments.


Durham Constabulary had entered into mediation and the Applicant had agreed the additional conditions, details of which had been circulated.


One representation had been received from Brandon & Byshottles Parish Council in opposition to the application.


Councillor Clegg speaking on behalf of Brandon & Byshottles Parish Council indicated that the parish council had decided to submit an objection due to public safety as the premises were located on a busy road on the A690. The side that the premises was located had not footpath and the only other outlet near the premises was Tesco and Sainsbury’s. The location of the premises invited people to cross a busy stretch of the road which was a hazard, there was also a bus lane with vehicles entering and exiting and moving around the forecourt. With regard to the prevention of public nuisance the premises would attract people from surrounding areas when other stores were closed. New houses were located on the A690 and there were properties in both directions, so the continuous movement of people would be disruptive for people in the area. He then referred to the prevention of crime and disorder and that the forecourt would attract people during the day and night in the surrounding area and they would ask that the application be refused.


The Chairman asked if the parish had had sight of the mediation document.


Councillor Clegg confirmed that the parish council had seen the mediation document and their objection remained.


Mr Botaki the Applicant’s Agent indicated that the petrol station already had a premises licence to sell late night refreshments and they were looking to vary the licence to allow the sale of alcohol. Malhurst had recently merged with Motor Fuel Group who currently had 502 24-hours a day licensed petrol stations in England and Wales so what the Applicant was asking for was not unusual and the company had lots of experience running these types of premises. He had spoken to Durham Constabulary and mediated some conditions including a night pay window from 23:00 to 06:00 which was how almost all of their stores operated and the preference of the police. The Application had been served on all responsible authorities and no objections had been received from any responsible authorities or residents.


The premises were situated with a field at either side and across the road was a high fence that divided the housing estate. He was currently dealing with 160 application and most are agreed with a few been heard by a panel which tended to be those premises located in the middle of houses. The application had been advertised in the usual way and none of the residents had objected. The policy allowed shops to match trading hours with opening hours.


He referred to the concerns from the parish council and their safety concerns, but he had never come across any safety issues and his company also represented Rontec who had 300 sites all of which have a 24-hour licences and no traffic related issues had been brought to his attention and Durham Constabulary had not raised any issues.


With regard to public nuisance he did not believe the sale of alcohol would disrupt residents as the premises were already open 24-hours, so they did not anticipate any issues. They had no issues with litter as most customers drove to the site and they don’t have many walking customers due to the geography of the site, so they did not expect any issues with litter and they were not aware of any crime and disorder at the site.


He had asked the store if they had any current issues and there were no complaints from residents or any contact with responsible authorities. The premises were in a quiet location and the company were aware of their responsibilities and were happy to provide contact details and any issues they would take the necessary steps to address. The act allowed for the application to be reviewed but they would ask if there were any issues if they could please speak to them first to give them the opportunity to address any issues.


He then referred to the Daniel Thwaites case and there was no evidence in the papers that the store would cause any issues just the fear of what might happen.


Councillor Wilson asked the age of staff who would be working at the store and the expected trade.


Mr Botkai responded that the company did not employ anyone under the age of 18 and he did not have any figures on the expected trade.


Councillor Blakey sought clarification if the CCTV covered the whole site and commented that there was a fear of people leaving Durham on an evening calling into the garage to obtain alcohol which would cause a disturbance.


Mr Botkai responded that there was no evidence to suggest that this would happen, it wasn’t currently happening as the premises had a late-night refreshments licence. The premises were not going to be a meeting point or hub and they don’t expect a quite area to suddenly become noisy but if anything did happen they could be contacted. He then advised that the CCTV equipment was of good quality in colour that also covered the forecourt and serving hatch and indicated that Members were more than welcome to come and look at the CCTV equipment.


Councillor Wilson sought clarification on the number of staff on site.


Mr Botkairesponded that they had two members of staff during the day and one on an evening.


Members discussed the refusal register and how they also liked to see and incident log.


Councillor Clegg indicated that the Applicant had referred to real evidence and asked if they could give a description if it was safe for pedestrians to access to purchase alcohol.


In response to the question, the Applicant advised that the route was safe, and pedestrians currently used the shop, although there was little foot trade due to the isolated location of the premises.


The Council’s Solicitor referred to Section 176 of the Licensing Act 2003 and whether any consideration had been given to excluded premises.


Mr Botkai responded that under the previous licensing act you had to prove the

use of the premises to obtain a licence and provide primary use data. He referred to the new act and the rewording of Section 176 and that the decision on primary use followed the grant of the licence and was not part of the application process.


The Chairman indicated that records needed to be kept on the types of sales to show the percentage of alcohol sold which would be checked after 12 months.


Mr Botkai responded that this was not appropriate to impose as a condition as it was only used to trigger the question of primary use. The data could be requested at any time.


The Chairman invited all parties to sum up.


Councillor Clegg reiterated what he had said previously regarding the prevention of public nuisance, crime and disorder and public safety. There was not a safe pedestrian access into the petrol station, there was a public house down the road and a bus lane and two roads to cross to access the petrol station. The Parish was concerned which was based on fact and they could not see any benefit of having alcohol sales and he hoped that this was taking into consideration.


Mr Botkai indicated that there was no evidence of any danger on the site and no responsible authorities had raised any issues. The premises were already trading 24-hours a day and suggested that there was no evidence that anyone would be in danger. He asked that the licence be granted based on Section 18 of the Act as there was no evidence to substantiate concerns. Crime and disorder concerns had been addressed with mediation with the police and he asked that the licence be granted, they were aware of their responsibilities and were happy to exchange contact details.


The Chairman asked if there were designated markings around the forecourt so that customers were safe to walk.


Mr Deevy, the Area Manager responded that they did not have designated markings as there was very little foot trade.


At 11.35 am the Sub-Committee Resolved to retire to deliberate the application in private.


After re-convening at 11.45 am the Chairman delivered the Sub-Committee’s decision. In reaching their decision the Sub-Committee had taken into account the report of the Senior Licensing Officer, the written and verbal representation of Other Persons and written representations from responsible authorities. Members had also taken into account the Council’s Statement of Licensing Policy and Section 182 Guidance issued by the Secretary of State.


The Chairman had indicated that the Sub-Committee had agreed to add a condition that a description of the person be included in the incident book. Following discussions with the Applicant it was agreed not to include this condition.


Resolved: That the Application to vary the Premises Licence be granted as follows with the conditions outlined in the application and that had been agreed with Durham Constabulary:


Licensable Activities

Days and Hours

Late Night Refreshment (indoor and outdoors)

Monday to Sunday 23:00 hours until 05:00 hours

Supply of Alcohol (off sales only)

Monday to Sunday 00:00 hours until 24:00 hours

Opening Hours

Monday to Sunday 00:00 hours until 24:00 hours


The following further condition be imposed to promote the crime and disorder objective:


·       A CCTV camera shall be positioned so as to cover customers purchasing alcohol at the point of sale in the premises and at the night pay window.

Supporting documents:


Democratic Services
Durham County Council
County Hall
County Durham
03000 269 714