Hartlepool’s new c-store granted alcohol licence for shorter hours

By Nic Marko, Local Democracy Reporter

116 York Road, Hartlepool. (Photo: Google Maps)

A licence has been granted for a new convenience store to open selling alcohol in Hartlepool, although for shorter hours than the shop owners wanted.

A hearing was held by Hartlepool Borough Council after a new premises licence application was submitted for a store to sell alcohol from 6am until 11pm at 116 York Road.

Submitted by Mr Suganjan Sauvendranayagam, he said he wanted to run the store as part of the ‘Go Local’ chain at the former Mark Lloyd jewellery shop.

Councillors on Hartlepool Borough Council Licensing Sub-Committee decided to grant the store a licence to sell alcohol, however only between 9am and 10pm, seven days a week.

This comes after concerns had been raised by the council licensing department that the longer hours proposed did not ‘fall within those considered appropriate for a residential area’.

The council’s licensing policy states how licences to sell alcohol before 9am or after 10pm in residential areas will ‘generally be refused’.

It states this is due to how it can cause ‘undue and unnecessary strain’ on the local transport infrastructure and emergency services, along with creating a ‘nuisance’ for nearby residents.

An additional condition was also added to the licence requiring one of the internal CCTV cameras to be pointed at the sales till.

A representative from Arka Licensing, Nira Suresh, speaking at the hearing on behalf of the applicant, argued the site is in the town centre, not a residential area, and the longer hours would help provide a service to the community.

He said: “What I describe this area as is a town centre, it’s a high street. From my understanding this area doesn’t fall into a residential area.

“It is a convenience store, I expect my local convenience store to be open from 6am until 11pm, I know that Tesco may not be open at those times.

“It seems to me like the residents are not really concerned, it seems to me they are happy, a premises is coming, as it’s a convenience store they can buy all the products during the opening times.

“It’s one hour [later], we don’t see during that one hour, there’s no evidence to prove within that one hour there’s going to be cause for public nuisance or a crime.”

He added alcohol would be taking up ‘less than 15% of the shelf space’, and they would be selling a whole range of other products, including essentials, and providing other services such as parcel delivery.

Mr Sauvendranayagam added he and his father have extensive experience running businesses such as this across the region.

He said: “We want to be with the community, not against it, we do our bit on our side and we’ve got evidence to show that with the shop that we have in Middlesbrough.”

The application also noted the store would feature a comprehensive CCTV system, a challenge 25 policy and a log of everyone refused sales of alcohol.

Ian Harrison, council trading standards and licensing manager, stressed he was not objecting to the store being able to open and sell alcohol, just the hours going beyond those stated in the council’s policy.

He said: “I would say this is most certainly a residential area, there are a number of streets which are probably 20 yards away, literally on the other side of the road from the applicant’s premises.

“Although it has a shopping centre on its rear, on its front it is facing a residential area.

“By their very nature convenience stores are there to serve their local community usually, which in itself suggests there is a community close by and that’s I think why this is in a residential area.”

He added the shop would be able to remain open for whatever its planning permission hours allow, and this was only about limiting the sale of alcohol to these times.

A response had also been submitted from resident Peter Joyce, arguing the town has ‘too many premises selling alcohol’ and has a ‘serious problem with alcoholism’.

Cllr Brenda Loynes stressed how the store is located in a ‘densely populated’ area of Hartlepool with many residents living nearby.

She said: “I’ve lived in Hartlepool all my life and I can assure you, the opposite side of York Road, behind the shops, it is densely populated with residential properties, an awful lot of people live there.”

Cllr Dave Hunter added he could not pick up ‘any positive reason’ why the council should deviate from its policy of 9am until 10pm hours for alcohol sales.

Cllr Loynes also raised a question in regards to if the clock above the shop, which has been there ‘ever since she can remember’, would be kept.

Mr Sauvendranayagam said he hopes to keep and eventually renovate the clock, which he sees as a ‘symbol of Hartlepool’, adding he could name the store after the clock.