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    ‘Perfect’ addition coming to Bridgwater town centre

    By: Daniel Mumby, Local Democracy Reporter

    Bridgwater town centre will get a ‘perfect’ new business after councillors approved a new alcohol licence.

    Rohit Julka, who runs a series of businesses in Weston-super-Mare, intends to open the Perfect Shop convenience store and off-licence at 13 High Street in Bridgwater town centre, not far from the ‘celebration mile’ improvements being delivered as part of the £23.2m Bridgwater town deal.

    Mr Julka applied for a licence to sell alcohol for consumption off the premises, which prompts concerns from the town council concerning antisocial behaviour and other public disorder in the town centre.

    But Somerset Council’s licensing sub-committee north overruled these concerns when it met in Bridgwater on March 4, describing the proposals as “well-prepared” and stating the police had no objections to the terms of the licence.

    The premises, once occupied by the town’s Subway restaurant (which is now located on The Clink), lies in one of the most prominent streets within the town centre and on the route of the annual Bridgwater Carnival parade.

    Under the new licence, the Perfect Shop will be able to sell alcohol for consumption off the premises daily between 8am and 11pm.

    Bridgwater Town Council objected to the proposed licence, arguing in a statement published before the hearing that it would exacerbate existing issues regarding antisocial behaviour and street drinking.

    Cllr Tim Mander, who chairs the town council’s planning committee, said: “Bridgwater town centre, particularly between Penel Orlieu and the Blake Statue, been identified by Avon and Somerset Constabulary as a hotspot for youth crime, while there remains an ongoing issue of antisocial behaviour linked to an increasing number of street drinkers.

    “Granting a liquor licence to another town centre shop unit will lead to an increased amount of crime and disorder and therefore endanger public safety as a direct result of the ready sale of alcohol.”

    Avon and Somerset Constabulary did not lodge any formal objection to the proposed licence, with its licensing officer agreeing a provisional series of conditions with Mr Julka ahead of the hearing.

    Simon Bawler, the council’s licensing officer, said Mr Julka’s three existing buildings had been “successfully trading” for many years “without cause for concern”.

    Mr Julka told the sub-committee that he had already arranged accommodation for his licensed staff in Bridgwater, allowing them to reach the premises in a short space of time in the event of any issues.

    Following a short debate in confidential session, the sub-committee voted to grant the licence as originally requested.

    Cllr Simon Carswell, who chaired the hearing, stated: “As a new application, this premises was not a focus of disorder and disturbance and we do not have a cumulative impact policy to limit further premises.

    “The applicant cannot be held responsible for antisocial activities outside of their premises and not directly attributable to the management of those premises.

    “The government’s guidance makes clear that beyond the immediate area surrounding the premises those are matters for the personal responsibility of individuals under the law.

    “We fully understood the concerns of the town council and support its endeavours to rid the town centre of antisocial behaviour, especially alcohol-related unruly behaviour.

    “However, it had to be recognised that the police, as the primary agents of enforcing crime and disorder and public nuisance objectives, had chosen not to object to the application but recommended some 24 conditions that could be added to any licence.”

    (Local Democracy Reporting Service)

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