Published on November 16th, 2010 | by Dean Carr
Booze and violence fears for Leeds suburb
A Leeds shopping area is in danger of becoming a ‘Godforsaken urban canyon’ due to the anti-social behaviour of ‘beligerent drunks’ on an evening.
That was the message from a local resident as Leeds Council’s licensing sub-committee yesterday granted a licence to sell alcohol to general store Bargain Baskets on Armley Town Street between 8am to 10pm Monday to Saturday and 10am to 4pm on a Sunday.
In a report considered by councillors, local resident Mark Jones, of Burnsall Grange, objected to the proposals. He said:
“Town Street itself is apparently now a legitimate drinking and meeting venue for people, with large crowds congregating outside the off-licences.
“This often degenerates into shouting matches and sometimes violence and has kept me awake until 2am on week night, partly because the anti-social behaviour/public drinking order does not go far enough…
“…Armley Town Street, though pleasant enough during the day, is fast becoming a sort of Godforsaken urban canyon on an evening, where a trip to the shops at 8pm involves taking your chances with all sorts of often beligerent drunks. The council will be well aware of the number of incidents in the shops of Town Street involving the inebriated.
“My own opinion is that Armley is a solid, decent working class area and a dormitory for much of the service industry in town, which is being continually blighted by a ready supply of cheap booze, and is already known across Leeds for this reason.
“Another off-licence [sic] would be absolute madness and as such I would like to object in the strongest possible terms.”
Local resident Keith Walker, also of Burnsall Grange, said there were a number of establishments already selling late-night alcohol on Town Street. He added:
“We have an existing problem with alcohol-related public nuisance and crime and disorder. I am concerned that if the premises are selling alcohol this will lead to more crime and disorder and anti-social behaviour causing a nuisance to me and other elderly residents in the block.”
The three Armley ward councillors – Jim McKenna, Alison Lowe and Janet Harper – also objected on the grounds of ‘a huge increase’ in drinking on Town Street which was intimidating shoppers and was causing concern for existing traders. They also said alcohol consumption was double the Leeds average.
Applicant hits out at councillors
After the meeting, director at Bargain Baskets Robin Wilkhu, defended his company as ‘reputable and responsible’ and criticised councillors’ attitude towards businesses in the area.
He told Guardian Leeds this morning that his business was creating jobs in Town Street and stressed that only about 10% of trade would come from alcohol sales. Wilku added:
“We have got 24-hour booze outlet in Armley – that, to me, is the issue over alcohol in Armley. Local pubs have been granted late licences and they sell cheap pints – but it seems like I’m an easy target.”
Wilkhu, who said getting legal representation at yesterday’s committee meeting cost him £2,000, said the councillors should be concentrating on solving the lack of car parking on Town Street and problems with people picking up parking tickets. He added:
“They need to understand that local businesses are as much a part of their community as their constituents and should start supporting us more. There’s no promotion of Town Street or its traders.”
The applicant will be running a CCTV camera on the premises and has adopted a proof of age scheme. The applicant will also prominently display notices indicating the existence and effect of an Alcohol Designated Public Places Order.
The application was approved by councillors as there was no basis in law to refuse it.
Last week it was reported how a booze licence was granted reduced hours following residents in Cross Gates raising concerns about late-night anti-social behaviour in their community.
Source : Guardian Leeds