By John Baron
An application to sell booze 21 hours a day at a New Wortley convenience store has today been refused by city councillors.
Booze Plus, on the junction between Tong Road and St Mary’s Close, currently sells alcohol for consumption off premises between 8am and 11pm Monday to Saturday and 10am-10.30pm on Sundays. Its new application would have seen those hours extended to 6am to 3am every day.
But councillors on the licensing sub committee refused Mr Saqib Ahmed’s application, raising concerns over its impact on crime, disorder and anti-social behaviour in the area.
The applicant’s counsel, Ms Bell, argued the store was a traditional corner shop serving the local community off a busy main road, and that the late-night opening was aimed at shift workers from local factories who often leave work at 1am.
She said her client had an excellent and unblemished record running a similar 24-hour establishment in Hyde Park and hit back at ‘speculative’ and ‘general’ objections from police, the council, councillors and local residents which failed to include specific concerns.
Police had objected on the grounds that New Wortley is a deprived and densely populated area of Leeds with its existing problems with anti-social behaviour, congregating youths and crime. There were also concerns that street drinkers from Armley Town Street could come down to Tong Road and that the application could create a night-time economy’ where none currently exists.
PCSO Brendan Counsell pointed to issues with a lack of parking and the noise impact on local residents at 3am. He Added: “This is one of the most densely-populated area of Armley and it would create a night-time economy in a part of Armley which frankly doesn’t need or want one and is already troubled by alcohol-related anti-social behaviour.”
Councillor Andy Parnham (Lab, Armley) spoke against the application on behalf of his fellow councillors and Rachel Reeves MP. He said: “We strongly object to the extension of this licence. It would be a disaster for the area.”
He said there was a ‘cluster’ of anti-social behaviour, crime and violence in the area.
Police and the council’s environmental health department have already objected to the latest proposals, alongside Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves and Armley’s councillors, mainly on the grounds of public nuisance in a residential area.
Mr Ahmed’s latest proposals say a suitable CCTV system will be in operation to deter anti-social behaviour, a register of the designated licence supervisor and incident logs will be kept and the premises will operate a Challenge 25 policy to deter under-age drinking.
The committee of three councillors – including Cllr Tom Hinchcliffe (Lab, Bramley & Stanningley) – refused the application due to ‘shared concerns’ over repeated crime and disorder in the area and the likelihood of the application increasing existing social problems. They said they did not doubt Mr Ahmed’s ability as a licensee or the way he runs his shop but said the measures he had agreed to put in place would not have tackles the wider issues.
A proposal for the shop to sell alcohol 24 hours a day was withdrawn by applicant Saqib Ahmed in October 2022 following local concerns.
The full agenda and papers from today’s meeting can be read in full here.