A Burnham-On-Sea petrol station has this week won its controversial bid to sell alcohol 24 hours a day.
As first reported here, the Esso station in Oxford Street had applied to Sedgemoor District Council for a change to its premises licence to allow round-the-clock alcohol sales.
Several residents and town councillors have aired their concerns about the plans, saying the 24-hour sales could encourage late night noise and anti-social behaviour in that area of town.
However, at a meeting of Sedgemoor’s Licensing and Gambling Panel on Wednesday, the plans were given a thumbs-up.
“It was clear to the Panel that a major concern of the Objectors was the perception that any increase in the hours of trading would result in an increase in noise and anti-social behaviour in and around the premises during the early hours of the morning,” said a council spokesman.
“Objections concerning the need or requirement of a 24-hour licence was not a valid reason for refusal of the application. The Police submitted an objection but were satisfied that the implementation of several proposed conditions would address their concerns.”
“In considering the evidence the Panel was mindful of the fact that both the Government Guidance and Council Policy stress that premises offering sales of alcohol for consumption off the premises should generally be free to do so at any time the retail outlet was open unless good reasons based on the licensing objectives existed.”
“The Panel was mindful of the fact that the Applicant could not be held responsible for general anti-social behaviour after customers had left the premises.”
“In addition the Panel did not consider that there was any evidence of a direct link or reason to believe there would be any link between the premises and incidents of anti-social behaviour in the vicinity of the premises, provided the applicant followed the steps identified in the operating schedule.”
The conditions include improvements to CCTV coverage, the installation of signs requesting customers leave the area quietly, training for staff, sales via a night hatch between midnight and 5am, and the installation of a panic alarm for staff.
The decision comes concerns were raised by councillors at a recent meeting. Cllr Phil Harvey said: “I can’t see why it’s necessary to sell alcohol through the night here. It could lead to late night noise and anti-social behaviour issues.”
Cllr Neville Jones added: “There’s a guesthouse right next door to this petrol station and many private properties around the roundabout. It’s in the heart of the town. Selling alcohol here around the clock could well harm the area.”
And Cllr Dennis Davey agreed, adding that he also has concerns about the proposed sale of hot food overnight. “There’s a risk that this petrol station would become a collection point for youths late at night which would create extra noise in a residential area.”
Local resident Mike Young also spoke out about his concerns. He told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “We’re concerned the 24-hour sales of alcohol would lead to extra late night noise and anti-social behaviour – we are certainly opposed to the plans.”
Esso applied for restrictions and conditions on its licence to be removed at the station to allow it to sell alcohol 24 hours a day. Its current hours for selling alcohol are Monday to Saturday (8am-11pm), Sunday 10am-10.30pm, Good Friday 8am-10.30pm and Christmas Day 12pm-3pm and 7pm-10.30pm.