Manchester off-licence prevented from extending opening hours

By Niall Griffiths, Local Democracy Reporter

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Aftabs on Bonsall Street

An off-licence near the University of Manchester’s main campus has been prevented from extending its opening hours out of fears it would aggravate ‘tensions’ between residents and students.

Aftab’s in Hulme had hoped to stay open for an extra hour and a half Monday to Saturday and until half past midnight on Sunday.

The premises licence application submitted to Manchester council would have also allowed the shop to sell alcohol up until the proposed closing times.

According to the current licence Aftab’s permitted opening hours are 9am to 11pm Monday to Saturday, and 10am to 10.30pm on Sundays.

But the plans were opposed by Greater Manchester Police after a local officer expressed concerns that the new licence would lead to an increase in antisocial behaviour within the largely residential area.

The off-licence trades out of the ground floor of an apartment block on Bonsall Street which is also home to several student accommodation blocks as well as other residential homes.

In an email to Manchester council in August, PC Adam Latimer said: “Local tensions are already in a heightened state and can see this variation causing members of our community extra stress and cause an increase in demand from GMP services at a time where we are already stretched.

“Students will start to return to the city of Manchester soon which in itself will bring an increase in demand for our services.

“The variation of hours will also move into a time period which has reduced staffing from GMP and can see demand causing issues with staff attending incidents depending on their severity.”

A meeting of Manchester council’s licensing committee on 12 October also heard from Hulme councillor Lee-Ann Igbon, who said the area was already blighted with antisocial behaviour, noise nuisance and ‘drunken students causing distress to other residents’.

The council also received objections from two residents living near Aftab’s, with one saying they are unable to sleep before the shop closes at 11pm because of the noise.

They added: “As it stands now, we cannot expect to sleep before 11pm until the shop has been closed so just imagine the impact it will have on us if this application is approved.”

Nobody representing Aftab’s attended the virtual hearing, but the application said the shop is ‘well known in the community’ and that there was ‘hardly any crime or disorder on, off and surrounding’ the premises.

But the committee decided to refuse the application, and in a statement said: “There’s already been concerns around antisocial behaviour in the area which is particularly prevalent in term when there are lots of students around.

“Residents’ sleep is already affected during this time, and the committee agrees that any increase in the hours of the premises would exacerbate those conditions.”