Published on July 19th, 2011 | by Dean Carr
Sainbury’s refused alcohol licence for Brighton city centre store
Supermarkets face a major obstacle in selling alcohol at new city centre stores after police, council chiefs and health bosses united in opposition.
Brighton and Hove City Council, Sussex Police and the city’s top doctor yesterday succeeded in blocking the attempts of Sainsbury’s to sell beer, wine and spirits from its store in North Street, Brighton.
Together they convinced magistrates to throw out an appeal by the supermarket giant against the council’s rejection of the plans.
It is believed to be the first time a supermarket has had an appeal thrown out by magistrates in the city.
While the decision does not set a precedent, council chiefs said it strengthens their overall licensing policy when dealing with multinationals.
Ben Duncan, the council’s cabinet member for public protection, said: “The magistrates took into account the wider issues of street drinking and what can happen to the alcohol once it leaves the premises – something that licensees have no control over.
“Our policy is there to make sure we do not add to the numbers of licenses where we are already at saturation point.”
Sainsbury’s, which is also opening a store in St James’s Street, Brighton, in the coming weeks, originally applied for permission to sell alcohol every day from 7am to 11pm.
At the hearing in Brighton Magistrates’ Court the firm offered to impose more stringent conditions on its licence.
However the court said the firm had failed to show it would not adversely affect the area so upheld the council’s decision.
It also ordered Sainsbury’s to pay the costs of the hearing.
Lizzie Deane, the chairman of the council’s licensing panel, Dr Tom Scanlon, the city’s director of public health, and Sergeant Richard Siggs, of Sussex Police, presented evidence against the store.
They claimed it did not fit in with the authority’s licensing policy to prevent crime, disorder and public nuisance while protecting the public and children from harm.
Chief Inspector Simon Nelson, of Sussex Police, said: “During this appeal we have made it clear that we do not question the capabilities of Sainsbury’s as a brand.
“But the broad availability and affordability of alcohol, particularly from off-licences within the city centre, has a profound detrimental impact on levels of crime and disorder.”
Brighton and Hove’s licensing committee is planning to extend the city’s cumulative impact area.
This allows councillors to take into account the impact of other licensed premises in the area when considering an application for a new licence or variations to existing ones.
The policy says that new licenses will not be issued unless there are exceptional grounds for doing so.
No one from Sainsbury’s was available for comment.