Members of Leeds City Council’s Licensing Sub-Committee today heard how the “lifeblood” of Town Street in Armley has been “suffering and suffering” because of drink-related disturbance and crime.
Councillors considered an application by Rezan Osman for the Krol Mini Market to gain a premises licence to sell alcohol between 9am and 10pm every day.
The store is in the Armley Cumulative Impact Policy area, which means such applications are usually rejected.
Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves and Armley councillors were among those who opposed the plan, and Coun Alison Lowe attended the meeting to offer an impassioned plea for the application’s refusal.
She said that there were already 18 licensed sites in Town Street, which is about a five-minute walk from one end to the other, 12 of them being off-licences. Residents have “suffered and suffered” as a result of drunken people causing “anti social behaviour, theft and low-level intimidation”, she said.
There are hundreds of people who rely on Town Street for shopping, including the elderly, the Labour councillor added.
She said: “Misery is not a strong word in relation to Armley Town Street and the plight of alcohol.”
After looking at materials submitted to the committee, member Coun Ryk Downes said: "It's clear there is a problem and it's actually getting worse."
Coun Lowe cited a recent experience of having to call an ambulance for a woman who was intoxicated and apparently on “spice” – a Class B substance.
She also suggested that part of the problem was that Armley homes a branch of Forward Leeds - a service for people facing alcohol and drug issues.
Bob Patterson, a West Yorkshire Police licensing officer for the Leeds district, said that approving the plan would be “adding fuel to the fire”.
Susan Holden, a principal council licensing officer, also opposed.
Mark Leyshon, senior policy officer at the charity formed by the merger of Alcohol Concern and Alcohol Research UK, afterwards said: “It’s the responsibility of local licensing authorities to look after the number and density of alcohol retailers in their area.
"This is a responsibility which should be taken seriously, as a higher number of alcohol outlets in an area is often associated with more alcohol harm. This harm goes beyond street drinking, and can’t be solved with CCTV and Challenge 25 alone.”
The applicant did not attend the meeting, but did submit a relevant risk assessment.