The Committee considered a report of the Licensing Team Leader regarding an application for the grant of a Premises Licence in respect of Asda Convenience and Petrol store, Peterlee (for copy see file of Minutes).
A copy of the application and supporting documentation had been circulated to all parties.
Helen Johnson, the Licensing Team Leader advised that Councillor Diane Howarth, other person had advised that she was unable to attend but wished for the Sub-Committee to take into account her written representations which were included at Appendix 4.
Following a question from Councillor Liz Brown, the Licensing Team Leader confirmed that there was no Cumulative Impact Policy.
Councillor Brown also noted the reference to a broken barrier in the Councillor’s representations and asked if it had been repaired.
Richard Taylor, the Applicant’s Solicitor confirmed that it had been mended but had been broken a second time, and was awaiting further repair.
Richard Taylor was invited to address the Sub-Committee. Asda was a well-known operator with many stores across the UK. He had represented the company since the introduction of the Licensing Act 2003 and in that time had not had to deal with any breaches of licensing conditions. This was testament to Asda’s licensing procedures.
COVID had changed shopping habits with a move towards on-line or little and often shopping. Asda was trialling the sale of alcohol at five of its petrol stations. If a customer wanted a bottle of wine for example they would not need to make the trip to the Superstore for it.
In terms of promoting the licensing objectives the premises had CCTV, all staff were properly trained and refresher training was provided annually. All spirits would be kept behind the counter, and no single cans or miniatures would be offered for sale. The counter was screened and staff had access to a panic button. Other measures included Challenge 25 and till prompts. The premises would be manned by more than one person at all times.
Turning to the representations of Councillor Howarth, Richard Taylor stated that there had been no representations from Responsible Authorities, including the Police. The reference to other retailers selling alcohol was not relevant. He accepted that the premises was in an area of deprivation but this did not mean that it should have poorer facilities because of this status. Investment was needed in these areas.
The Store Operations Manager had 30 years experience.
Councillor David Brown asked why Asda was trialling the sale of alcohol at some of it’s petrol stations. Richard Taylor replied that unlike many operators it had not previously sought to licence petrol stations and this was a trial of five from the overall number of stations it had. If it was a success this may be rolled out to others.
Councillor Blakey asked if an impact upon the supermarket sales was expected as a result. Mr Taylor suspected that it would make very little difference. This premises catered for convenience customers.
Councillor Liz Brown asked about the CCTV coverage, and was informed that being a petrol station, the equipment at the premises was of high specification already and included ANPR.
The Licensing Team Leader noted that Councillor Howarth had made reference to anti-social behaviour and problems with youths, and asked if there were measures in place should it become an issue at the store. Richard Taylor confirmed that two security officers were in-store until midnight every night.
In summing up Richard Taylor referred the Sub-Committee to the Thwaites case and the need to provide ‘real’ evidence. This was a good company with millions of customers. Asda had never been prosecuted for a breach of the licensing conditions, and had a good package of measures in place to promote the licensing objectives. The application was within the Framework Hours and only one objection had been received from a Councillor with local concerns; there had been no objections from Responsible Authorities or local residents.
Deprivation was not a reason to refuse an application, and he urged the Sub-Committee to grant the Premises Licence as applied for.
At 1.55pm Councillors Jan Blakey, Robert Adcock-Forster and David Brown resolved to retire in private to consider the application. After re-convening at 2.00pm the Chair delivered the Sub-Committee’s decision. In reaching their decision the Sub-Committee considered the report of the Licensing Team Leader, the written representations of Councillor Howarth and the verbal representations of the Applicant’s Solicitor. The Sub-Committee had also taken into account the Council’s Statement of Licensing Policy and Section 182 Guidance issued by the Secretary of State.
That the application for a Premises Licence be granted as requested subject to the conditions that were consistent with the operating schedule and the mandatory conditions under the Licensing Act 2003.