Hartlepool store’s bid to extend hours fails

By Nic Marko, Local Democracy Reporter

Belle Vue Wines in Sydenham Road, Hartlepool. (Photo: Google Maps via LDRS)

A Hartlepool store has failed in its bid to gain permission to open later at night after concerns from police over crime in the area and licensing rules being followed.

Bosses at Belle Vue Wines in Sydenham Road faced the hearing after submitting an application to extend their premises licence to allow them to sell alcohol from 7am until 11pm seven days a week.

Currently the convenience store is licensed to do so from Monday to Friday 9am until 10pm and from 10am until 10pm on Saturday and Sunday.

Councillors on the licensing sub-committee on Friday (January 21) ruled against granting the application for the later opening following police concerns, noting it would not promote licensing objectives.

However they did grant the store permission to be able to sell alcohol for an hour earlier, from 9am, on weekends.

Matthew Foster, solicitor on behalf of the applicant Janarthani Paramesvaran, who has run the store since 2015, argued they wanted the extra hours to help provide a “better and more convenient service”.

He said: “They want to extend their hours to essentially catch shift workers, people going to and from work.

“The longer hours are already operated by other premises in the area, the only difference to customers would be they wouldn’t be purchasing from us, they would be purchasing from someone else.

“We’re not competitive with other premises in the area because they’ve got hours which exceed the council’s policy.”

Hartlepool Council licensing policy states shops “will generally be refused” permission to provide sales of alcohol for consumption off site before 9am or after 10pm in residential areas.

Council offers noted stores open outside those hours either gained permission prior to 2005, when the legislation was brought in, or operate in non-residential areas.

Paul Clark, solicitor representing Cleveland Police, said the council has a sound licensing policy, and there is nothing “out of the norm” for them to deviate from it for this store.

He said: “This is an area where there is a significant amount of crime, be that violent crime, be it drink related, be it antisocial behaviour.

“Alcohol can cause problems and it does cause problems, it causes antisocial behaviour, it leads to crime, it leads to domestic violence.

“This is a residential area and late at night noise travels much further than it does during the day.”

He added during visits carried out following the application the store was found “not complying with the licensing conditions” set out for it.

Police noted while there has been some “really spot on training” since, which they encourage, this all came following their visits and concerns.

It was also heard, while the store was not necessarily responsible, 75% of all crime in the Foggy Furze area is committed within 500 meters of the premises.

Representatives from the shop stressed training has been carried out to ensure staff are fully aware of licensing responsibilities, with future refresher courses lined up, while Challenge 25 is in place.

The committee also heard 16 CCTV cameras are in place serving the site, while store representatives said they have addressed all issues raised by the police during their visits in December.