Armley shop's alcohol plans met with strong objections over street drinking concerns

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Plans to sell alcohol in a shop in Armley are set to go before Leeds City Council licensing chiefs next week - but both police, council officers and even the local MP say such permission would go against efforts to curb street drinking in the area.

Lietuvaite Shop in Branch Road wants permission to sell alcohol for consumption off the premises every day between 9am and 9pm.

Armley is a designated Cumulative Impact Policy (CIP) zone – an area in which it is more difficult to get a new permission to sell alcohol due to problems with drink-related antisocial behaviour.

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A letter from West Yorkshire Police, objecting to the plans, says not enough measures have been proposed by the applicant to say how antisocial behaviour will be kept to a minimum.

Lietuvaite Shop in Branch Road wants permission to sell alcohol - but strong objections have been made over street drinking concerns (stock image)Lietuvaite Shop in Branch Road wants permission to sell alcohol - but strong objections have been made over street drinking concerns (stock image)
Lietuvaite Shop in Branch Road wants permission to sell alcohol - but strong objections have been made over street drinking concerns (stock image)

It added: “This application, in terms of the proposed measures and conducting of licensable activities, is essentially no different when compared to any of the other existing licensed premises upon which the Armley (CIP) was founded.

“The application mirrors in most respects what is already allowed with existing licensed premises in the area concerned and which initially brought about the problems associated with the Armley area and the subsequent implementation of the (CIP).

“In these circumstances, West Yorkshire Police has no alternative but to ask a presiding subcommittee at a forthcoming hearing concerning this application, to… refuse it outright.”

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A letter sent to the applicant by Leeds City Council licensing officers also objected to the plans, adding: “Your application does not refer to how you will address the problems being experienced on Armley Town Street which are clearly described in the Statement of Licensing Policy in the excerpt above and in further detail in the Cumulative Impact Assessment.

“Common sense would denote that new off licensed premises opening in the area where street drinking and the associated anti-social behaviour is most problematic would add to the problems already being experienced in the area.”

Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves (Lab) submitted a letter of her own to the committee, claiming there was “no doubt” a link between the large numbers of off licences in Armley and the prevalence of street drinking in the area.

She said: “Armley must become a place where local people can enjoy their community. Therefore, I hope that the licencing committee will continue to support the efforts of the police, local community and Leeds City Council in addressing these issues by properly applying the Cumulative Impact Policy and preventing any new alcohol licences from being granted in this area.”

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A letter sent to the committee on behalf of Armley’s three Leeds city councillors stated: “There is widespread community reporting that people do not always feel safe visiting Armley Town street and the perceptions of antisocial behaviour associated with drug and alcohol use are widely documented.

“As we emerge from lockdown we want to encourage our communities to return to Armley Town Street and support our local businesses. We will continue to work with our police teams and council teams on all aspects of community safety and in doing so strongly object to the granting of another alcohol licence within the vicinity of Armley Town Street.”

A letter from St George’s Crypt, which runs a drug and alcohol rehabilitation project in Armley, said a new alcohol licence would simply reinforce the reputation of Town Street as a go-to area for cheap alcohol, and could be a “trigger spot” that would impact people’s recovery.

Another letter, from a police officer working in Armley, claims he had to “phone the Ambulance on many occasions” due to people being passed out in the daytime through drink and drugs.

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The application stated: “The premises will operate to a high standard, and will do so should this licence be granted in terms of the sale of alcohol. All staff will be fully trained in their responsibilities with regard to the sale of alcohol, and will be retrained every six months, with recorded training records kept for inspection.”

It added that CCTV would be provided, “capable of providing pictures of evidential quality”, as well as an incident report register, a challenge 25 policy and training for staff to call the police if they are unable to diffuse situations.

Leeds City Council’s Licensing Sub Committee will meet on Tuesday, July 20 to discuss the plans.

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