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    Ilford shop owner says opposition to license extension ‘unfair’

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    By Sebastian Mann, Local Democracy Reporter

    A business owner in Ilford said it is “unfair” he faces opposition to selling alcohol later into the night when other shops can.

    Haydar Sal, who owns Ilford Food and Grocery in Cranbrook Road, submitted a formal request to extend his licensing hours from 11pm (10.30pm on Sundays) until 2am.

    This would allow the shop to sell alcohol until the early hours, with Haydar saying he is losing business to the five other stores operating under such hours.

    He said: “If you come into my shop and want to buy something, and I can’t sell it but the person across the road can, I’ve lost your business.”

    He claims that 40 per cent of his trade is alcohol, and groceries make up the rest.

    After concerns over street drinking were raised at a licensing sub-committee meeting on Wednesday (3 April), he said he just wanted to compete fairly.

    He argued he would turn away drunk people and his customers would only be buying alcohol to wind down after a day of work.

    However, representatives from Metropolitan Police and Public Health England (PHE) told the committee it could undermine crime prevention measures.

    Cranbrook Road falls under a ‘culminative impact zone,’ which is enforced in a bid to deter anti-social behaviour.

    PC Birch, part of the Met’s local policing team, said: “We know Ilford has an issue with street drinking. If this is granted, it’s highly likely those current issues will grow.”

    A representative from PHE told the committee that “responsible drinkers” were not buying alcohol at those hours.

    She said: “I understand this is about business, but this is a chance to stop premises increasing these sales.”

    She admitted that there was no evidence that street drinkers were buying alcohol from Haydar’s shop, but reiterated that the area was known for its substance misuse problems.

    As part of his application, the operator also requested permission to sell spirits in bottles 10CL (100ml) and above.

    This was similarly opposed by the authorities, who argued they were easy for people to hide.

    PC Birch said: “Street drinkers will buy relatively cheap alcohol from shops, and they target these small-size bottles because the town centre has a public space protection order (PSPO).

    “They buy small bottles because it’s easy to hide and avoid them being confiscated.”

    Introduced in October 2023, the PSPO prohibits the public consumption of alcohol in the town centre, as well as spitting, begging, urination, street gambling, and more.

    Growing frustrated, Haydar said that not once in his 23 years of operating similar businesses had his character been called into question.

    He has operated licensed premises in Luton, Hackney and Romford and said he would “do his utmost” to keep Ilford Food and Grocery in check.

    A representative from the council’s licensing enforcement team, which similarly opposed the requests, replied that it was “nothing personal”.

    The representative argued that extending the hours and selling small bottles of spirits would not benefit the community in Ilford.

    Committee chair Anne Sachs concluded the meeting and told attendees that a decision would be emailed to them within five days.

    Towards the end of the debate, the Chadwell ward councillor told Haydar that it was generally presumed the council would not grant an extension in a community protection zone, unless there were “exceptional circumstances”.


    (Local Democracy Reporting Service)

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