Opponents lose fight over shop’s booze sales

Tesco Express on Matmore Gate.
Tesco Express on Matmore Gate.
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Residents have lost their fight to stop Spalding’s Tesco Express selling booze for extra hours.

Their campaign was backed by district council leader Gary Porter – and more than 70 people signed a petition – but South Holland’s licensing committee gave the Matmore Gate store the go-ahead on Wednesday with conditions designed to deter anti-social behaviour.

Alcohol sales had been allowed from 8am-11pm Monday-Saturday but can now take place between 6am-11pm Monday-Sunday – Sunday alcohol sales had been restricted to 10am-10.30pm.

Residents say the store now closes at 10pm, but fear the extra hour at night could result in more anti-social behaviour with drinkers drawn to the area when other outlets are closed and more problems with drivers parking on yellow lines and more litter in the streets.

Resident Richard Knipe said: “Naturally I am disappointed at the decision of the licensing panel. Councillor Porter, one of our ward councillors, put in an objection but it is a pity that no-one else in authority, particularly the police, saw fit to support our cause.

“The conditions that were added to the licence are a small step in the right direction but we lost on the key issue of longer hours. The central theme seemed to be that we could produce no evidence as to what might happen because there had not been enough trouble in the past. Surely the job of licensing law in these circumstances should be not to respond to harm once it has occurred but to make judgements to avert the risk.

“The Licensing Act seems to favour applicants over concerned residents and I can only hope that the new extended hours do not lead to the sort of problems we fear.”

Coun Porter said the licensing panel’s “ability to manoeuvre is pretty limited”.

He accepted the panel had imposed conditions on the licence, but said: “It’s not a substitute for not having it in the first place.”

A Tesco spokesman said: “We want to be good neighbours and part of that is selling responsibly, which is why we have a strict and stringent Think 25 policy and will play our part in upholding this.”

A council spokesman said: ”The panel took into account that there were no representations from the police or any other responsible authorities to support concerns of anti-social behaviour, littering or street drinking in the area being attributed to the premises.”

He said there was “no evidence that the new licence will lead to an increase in these issues”.