Rowlands Castle Parish Council’s anger over Shell’s booze bid

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PARISH councillors have warned it will cost tens of thousands of pounds to appeal against a petrol firm’s bid to sell alcohol.

Ten days ago the Shell service station, in Whichers Gate Road, Rowlands Castle, was given permission by East Hampshire District Council (EHDC) to sell alcohol every day from 6am to 10pm.

The council’s licensing committee deemed alcohol could be sold as long as strict rules, such as staff training and CCTV surveillance, were adhered to.

Last night angry residents and members of Rowlands Castle Parish Council filled the Parish Hall, in Links Lane, Rowlands Castle, to see if an appeal against the decision could be made.

Both parties felt Shell had mislead EHDC with data they collected from the service station between April and June.

Shell calculated 47 per cent of its sales had come from goods other than petrol, so selling alcohol would be a good option for the service station.

Councillor John Pickering, chairman of the Parish Council, said the parish council would consider hiring a legal advisor to look over the figures – but he admitted the costs of entering a legal battle would be high.

He said: ‘I understand that Shell has been asked to provide proof of its data, but at the same time we have three options available to us.

‘We either do nothing, let the licence go through and then compile a dossier on any trouble that is caused relating to alcohol and then seek to revoke the licence, or seek advice from a solicitor who can go over the figures.

‘That initial cost will be £500, but then it would cost in the region of £5,000 if we were to go through a formal appeal.

‘If we lost our case, we could have costs awarded against us in the amount of £10,000.

‘We run a risk of doing this, and it’s not something we can enter into lightly, but that’s what we can do.’

Simon Beken, of Whichers Gate Road, who is chairman of First Rowlands Castle Scout Group, said: ‘We should not be afraid of using legal action against a corporation that wants to change the image of our village.

‘The decision so far is a travesty.’

Catherine Billam, 49, from The Green, Rowlands Castle, said: ‘I regularly go to fill up my car with petrol at the service station and see that the majority of people there are also using it for fuel, they aren’t buying other things.’

The parish council has until October 28 to lodge an appeal against EHDC’s decision.