Budgens Garforth: Leeds shop accused of selling cider to underage boy wins 24-hour licence despite objections
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Budgens has been given round-the-clock permission to sell alcohol following a licensing hearing on May 30, the local authority confirmed on Wednesday. Members of the licensing sub-committee heard police claims that the shop had sold Strongbow cider to a 14-year-old last year, which prompted them to object to the shop in the centre of Garforth having its licensed hours extended from 7am to 11pm every day.
But a panel of three councillors “unanimously” approved the shop’s application, according to a council statement that does not set out the reasons for the decision. The shop’s solicitor had insisted that the allegation of underage sales was irrelevant to its request for a 24/7 licence.
Garforth councillor Mark Dobson, who had objected to the extension on the grounds of anti-social behaviour, expressed anger at the result. He Dobson said: “The decisions of the sub-committee never cease to amaze me. This was objected to by local councillors, members of the public and there were also strong representations from statutory bodies.” He said the decision flew in the face of these concerns.
Coun Dobson, who was one of 11 individuals to object to Budgens’ application, added: “In all my time as a councillor, it’s one of the poorest decisions I’ve seen, and that’s in a very strong field.”
At last month’s hearing, Budgens’ solicitor Robert Botkai said there was “no evidence to suggest this store is a focus of disorder”. Councillors heard evidence from the police, licensing officers and the 14-year-old boy’s mum that the shop had sold him fruit cider. Although Mr Botkai had initially suggested fake ID had been used, he later insisted there was “no evidence” any offence had taken place, adding that the allegations were “not relevant” to the application in any case.