Armley shop denied alcohol licence over street drinking worries

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Application: 6-8 Armley Town Street.

by David Spereall, local democracy reporter

An Armley shop’s bid to sell alcohol has been rejected after councillors heard about a long-running battle with booze-fuelled crime in the Town Street area.

Kaewan Salam Hamarashed had applied to Leeds City Council for a premises licence for his Armley shop, on Town Street, which would have allowed him to sell booze for more than 80 hours a week.

But 25 people had objected to the idea, including local residents, police, councillors and the council’s own public health team.

On Tuesday a committee turned down the licence bid after hearing the shop lies within the council’s cumulative impact area, which means any business wanting an alcohol licence has to demonstrate they won’t make those issues worse.

PCSO Brendan Counsell told the hearing: “While alcohol-fuelled crime in this area has decreased, we’re focused on keeping that the way it is.

“We don’t want to go back to the situation where we were a few years ago, where drunk males were on the street and we were getting numerous calls from residents and shops. The residents don’t want to see that ever again.”

Public health officer Jon Hindley said the authorities had “worked very hard to make Armley safer” but that there remained a “strong perception from residents that it’s not safe to go out after a certain time”.

He added: “Families have been having to walk past urination, human faeces, broken bottles and inebriated people behaving intimidatingly. They don’t want to back to back to a situation where street drinkers are present.”

The shop’s boss had earlier insisted he was a “very responsible” operator and that selling alcohol would have a “minimal” impact on the area.

Speaking mainly through a translator, Mr Hamarashed said: “What I want to sell are Romanian products that don’t appeal to the rest of the public.

“Most of the customers coming to the store are coming from Bradford and Harrogate. It’s not only people from Armley. People are coming from all over the place, because I’ve got traditional Romanian food that’s been prepared in the shop.

“Everyone (in the Romanian community) comes to me because his shop is unique.”

The applicant said he’d been running the store since last October and that his request for a licence was a response to customers “asking for Romanian beers and Romanian wines”.

He added: “The only reason I want to apply for this licence is not to make more money – it’s just to keep the business afloat.”

However, after an hour’s deliberation a committee of three councillors unanimously refused the application, stating they’d not been convinced the licence wouldn’t contribute to Armley’s troubles.

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