COUNCILLORS have approved plans for a general dealer’s store to sell alcohol despite fears from residents that it will lead to anti-social behaviour.
Atkinson & Co Allsorts Store, in Owton Manor Lane, Hartlepool, has been granted a licence to sell booze seven-days-a-week between 11am and 10pm.
Paul Atkinson runs the store with his wife Dorothy, 45, and said he is “over the moon” with the decision by Hartlepool Borough Council’s licensing act sub-committee.
The application for a new premises licence was heard by the committee after residents objected to the plans over fears it would re-ignite problems with anti-social behaviour at the St Patrick shops.
But committee members approved the application after an hour-long hearing because there was not sufficient evidence to turn it down.
Mr Atkinson, 47, said: “We are over the moon with the decision and pleased that the councillors listened to our side of the story.
“We have been open for 13 months now and we sell pet products, cleaning products, sweets and drinks and we applied for a licence to sell alcohol to help us keep going.
“We wouldn’t have had to close if we didn’t get it, but everybody is struggling at the moment and every little helps,” added the dad-of-four.
Objectors spoke at the meeting against the proposals.
Donna Hotham, 41, used to run Hotham Aquatics at the shopping parade before it was changed into the general dealer’s.
Speaking at the meeting, Mrs Hotham said she had experienced racial abuse from yobs in the past and raised fears that anti-social behaviour problems could again become an issue if another store was given permission to sell booze.
Committee members heard that there are currently three other shops in the area that can sell alcohol.
Mrs Hotham said: “We helped get five anti-social behaviour orders in this area a few years ago, but those are due to finish and these people will soon be allowed to buy alcohol.
“The fear is that another shop selling alcohol will help fuel problems in the area.”
Donna’s mother-in-law Sybil Hotham, 71, also spoke at the meeting against the proposals and the pair were supported by Labour Councillor Marjorie James, who represents the Owton ward.
Coun James, who said it could be one alcohol licence “too many”, told the meeting: “The anti-social behaviour has subsided and is not a particular problem at the moment. But the real fear is that this would ignite the situation again.”
A series of conditions have been attached to the licence including CCTV coverage, a Challenge 21 policy enforced and training given to staff selling alcohol.