Delikatesy U Gosi Beeston: Leeds shop allowed to sell alcohol until 2am after its bills quadruple

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A south Leeds store has been allowed to sell alcohol for 19 hours a day after its owner said his bills had recently quadrupled.

Delikatesy U Gosi in Beeston now has permission to sell alcohol until 2am every day – three hours later than its previous cut-off time. The store in Beeston Road, which is run by Souleiman Al Ampasi, is increasingly shifting its focus to alcohol because the costs of its European food offering have risen so sharply after Brexit, a licensing hearing was told on Tuesday.

Mr Al Ampasi had initially applied for a 24/7 alcohol licence, which had sparked objections from Leeds City Council’s public health arm, as well as its communities department and local Labour councillor Andrew Scopes. Fears around the impact on children, noise and crime had been cited in the objections.

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But a panel of three councillors allowed Mr Al Ampasi a 2am cut-off after both he and some of the objectors said they were happy with that arrangement. Speaking at the hearing, Mr Al Ampasi said: “Our bills have increased from £400 a month to about £1,600 a month. Rent will increase at the end of the year. The business is based on European food that’s not available elsewhere locally. But since Brexit the price has increased so much to the point we’re struggling to sell the food now. We’re now trying to focus on alcohol.”

Delikatesy U Gosi in Beeston has been granted an extension to its licence for alcohol sales. Picture: GoogleDelikatesy U Gosi in Beeston has been granted an extension to its licence for alcohol sales. Picture: Google
Delikatesy U Gosi in Beeston has been granted an extension to its licence for alcohol sales. Picture: Google

The manager said his alcohol was “not cheaper” than that in local supermarkets and he was aiming to draw trade from customers at nearby takeaways, which he said close at 2am. He added: “It’s not that we’re expensive, but the products we buy from suppliers are always higher (in price) than Asda and Tesco, so most people who drink every day will go and buy from the places that are cheaper.”

Concerns had been raised about noise disturbing residents in a nearby care home, but Mr Al Ampasi said there had been no such complaints from the home or other neighbours. He added: “When the pandemic hit, we were giving staff at the care home down the road free energy drinks, free water and free food, because we were the only place they could get to. We’ve a close relationship with the locals.”

Council officers presenting their objections admitted that the shop was “well managed” and “well maintained”, while the police withdrew their own opposition to the application after extra cameras were installed at the premises. But Nicola Kelly-Johnson, from the local authority’s public health team, said crime was “more likely” to rise if alcohol was more readily available.

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She told the hearing: “There are many other outlets available to purchase alcohol from in the area. The abundance and presence of alcohol-selling outlets, and the marketing of it, normalises it for children who will then think of it as an everyday product This is a residential area. It’s on the corner of a street where people’s homes are. So what we don’t want is noise if they’re trying to sleep and they’ve got school the next day.”

Ms Kelly-Johnson said the council wanted to avoid a repeat of the street drinking problems the authorities are already grappling with parts of east Leeds. She added: “Applying common sense, that’s what happens when you have an abundance of alcohol in an area – you get street drinking. That’s what I’m trying to prevent.”

The panel granted an extension to the licence until 2am after both sides present in the hearing said they were comfortable with that arrangement. In their explanation of the decision, which was read aloud, they praised Mr Al Ampasi’s “preparedness” in addressing concerns around noise and anti-social behaviour. They also said they recognised his “legitimate commercial interests” and “desire to remain financially viable”.