The Clerk to the Parish Council’s response to EHDC’s Licensing Officer regarding this Application is detailed below:
Thank you for notification of this Application and I write on behalf of the Parish Council and with the agreement of all its councillors. It is recognised that this Council has been sent this notification “for information only”. That said, given the history of this Council’s involvement with a previous, similar application for the same site in the past, it is considered appropriate that it respond to this current Application on behalf of residents of this Parish.
By way of background, EHDC granted the previous application in 2011, a decision which this Council subsequently successfully challenged in Court in 2012. The case centred around whether or not Shell Whichers Gate’s prime purpose was selling fuel, with a convenience store as a sideline, or a convenience store, which also sold fuel. Shell argued the latter, producing statistics and figures in support of its case, and that it should therefore be permitted to sell alcohol on the site. This Council demonstrated Shell’s statistics and figures were highly questionable and proved the prime purpose of the site was the selling of fuel and therefore a licence to sell alcohol should never have been granted.
During the court case, Shell initially presented the same business figures as those provided to EHDC, and upon which EHDC had based its original decision to grant the Application. When these were challenged in court, Shell presented several different sets of figures; all of these were challenged and found to be inconsistent. When announcing their decision, the magistrates referred to “figures that you could drive a coach and horses through”. For this and other reasons they decided that the building was a ‘garage’ and not a ‘convenience store’ and the Licence was revoked. Alcohol was immediately removed from the shelves of Shell Whichers Gate at the time.
We now look to the members of EHDC’s Licensing Committee to decide whether the premises, which are currently being extended, are of sufficient size to be re-classified as a ‘convenience store’. In doing so, no doubt members will examine any figures provided by the Applicant. We note the current Application claims the building is a “well-established convenience store” – a description which is contrary to the Court’s decision, as described above. We also note Shell has engaged the same agent as it did for the previous application.
From the information provided, the Application does not appear to provide evidence to show why the decision of the court that the premises are a ‘garage’ and not a ‘convenience store’ should be overturned. The Applicant has not presented current reliable business volume data, nor can we see any change in circumstances since then. In this light, will Committee members consider the increased size of the premises alone sufficient to justify the Applicant’s claim that the premises would be a ‘convenience store’?
If they are minded to do so, we note the Police objection to the previous Application in terms of sales ‘24/7’ and their agreement to sales being limited to between 0600 and 2200. We note the current Application makes the same request for 24/7 sales and consider this excessive. We would support a similar restriction to reasonable hours for this current Application. We recognise the importance of preventing anti-social behaviour late at night should not be underestimated and such a restriction on the sale of alcohol may well assist this.
Thank you for your anticipated consideration of our response, and you are welcome to forward this to all members of EHDC’s Licensing Committee