Worries raised about non-stop alcohol sales shop

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CONCERNS have been raised about plans to open a supermarket which wants to sell alcohol around the clock in a troubled area of Portsmouth.

An application for the former Salvation Army premises at 32 Queen Street in Portsea is due to go before Portsmouth City Council’s licensing sub-committee on January 9.

But numerous letters have been sent to the council, from the police to the local community centre, a nearby school’s headteacher and a local NHS surgery, amongst others, to express their worries about the proposals for a new shop selling alcohol 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Police licensing officer Brian Swallow said: ‘The venue’s location is statistically one of the highest crime reported areas in the city.

‘Anti-social behaviour is rife in the area, as are incidents of assaults, thefts and criminal damage.’

The police’s management system revealed there had been more than 200 incidents in the immediate vicinity of the planned store since the start of 2012.

PC Swallow added: ‘Experience has shown us that when a venue operates and benefits from a premises licence to supply alcohol after 11pm, crime, anti-social behaviour and incidents of public nuisance will increase.’

He also described meeting the proposed operators of the shop, and described them as ‘unsympathetic’ to the police’s concerns.

Council licensing manager Nickii Humphreys called measures put forward by the applicant as ‘generic in nature’.

The applicants, Rostam Abbas and Heman Rasul, have proposed that it will not serve drunks, will put up notices asking customers to leave quietly and warning of criminal activity in the area, and install CCTV.

Matt Mason, centre director of the neighbouring John Pounds Centre said: ‘Customers of the proposed premises have the potential to purchase alcohol and use the local area, such as the peace garden and surrounding grounds to consume their purchases.

‘This has the potential to conflict with families, residents, centre users and the Top Tots nursery based in the centre.’

The city’s planners gave permission for a change of use from office space to retail back in May, but the building currently remains boarded up. The News was unable to contact either of the applicants.