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    Police oppose new store’s alcohol licence highlighting violent crime in area

    SPM Local site at 55 Lewes Road, Brighton (Photo via LDRS)

    By Sarah Booker-Lewis, Local Democracy Reporter

    Sussex Police have objected to a Brighton shop’s application for a drinks licence because the surrounding area has high levels of crime and disorder.

    Selvaratnam Pirabaharan, 47, has applied to Brighton and Hove City Council for an alcohol off-sales licence from 8am to 11pm daily for a new convenience store at 55 Lewes Road.

    Mr Pirabaharan is looking to open the SPM Local business at the former Panda Lounge site which was once a NatWest bank branch.

    Objections from Sussex Police and the council mean that it will go before a licensing panel, made up of three councillors, for a decision on Thursday 11 January.

    Inspector Mark Redbourn, from Sussex Police, said that between Tuesday 22 November 2022 and Tuesday 21 November 2023 there were 62 violent crimes, 38 incidents of anti-social behaviour, 19 incidents of criminal damage and 14 public order offences within 525ft (160 metres) of the premises.

    He recognised that the Panda Lounge had had a licence – but with “restaurant conditions” that required alcohol to be sold with a meal.

    Inspector Redbourn said: “We have concerns that permitting a further off-licence within this area and so increasing the availability of alcohol could have a further negative impact within an area that already suffers from crime and disorder.

    “There is also the risk of alcohol being consumed within open spaces increasing anti-social behaviour and proxy sales to children.”

    There are nine off-licences along this stretch of Lewes Road and various licensed businesses including pubs, restaurants, cafés and late-night takeaways.

    The proposed layout of the new store set aside a “large area” for alcohol including beer, wine and spirits.

    Should the panel approve the application, Inspector Redbourn asked for several conditions including one to restrict alcohol displays to no more than 20 per cent of the store.

    Inspector Redbourn also asked that alcohol be covered outside of licensing hours because the shop would open at 6am.

    He called for a ban on strong beer and cider unless it was a craft beer or speciality brand.

    Mr Pirabaharan said that he would be happy for all spirits to be on display behind the counter.

    The council said that the application included no exceptional circumstances that would justify breaking its licensing policy of refusing new off-licences in the area.

    The application is due to go before a licensing panel hearing next Thursday (11 January). The meeting is scheduled to be webcast on the council’s website.

    (Local Democracy Reporting Service)

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