The applicant has applied for a new premises licence in respect of Fresh Market, 313a High Street, Chatham, Kent, ME4 4BN. All responsible authorities have been consulted in line with the Licensing Act 2003. Representations have been received from the Police, Public Health, Licensing Enforcement and a local support group and no agreement has been reached.
The Chairman asked those present to introduce themselves and explained the process that the hearing would follow. He asked that no reference be made to the exempt information that formed part of the representation by the Police and advised that this would be considered after the Panel had voted on whether to exclude the press and public from the hearing.
The Licensing Officer stated that, in accordance with the Licensing Act 2003, the Council had received an application for a new premises licence for the supply of alcohol off the premises in respect of Fresh Market, 313a High Street, Chatham, Kent, ME4 4BN. She confirmed that the application had been correctly advertised in the local press and notices displayed at the premises for the required period.
The application was for the supply of alcohol off the premises between 0800 hours and 2100 hours Monday to Sunday. In accordance with section 9.14 of the Amended Guidance to the Licensing Act, the Licensing Officer had been in discussion with Planning Services and confirmed that the premises had no planning history so class or hours could not be confirmed.
Representations had been received from Kent Police, Public Health, Licensing Enforcement and a local support group. The Licensing Officer advised that the Licensing Enforcement Officer had submitted apologies as he was unable to attend the hearing due to a prior commitment.
The following documents were included in the agenda report for the Panel’s consideration: -
• Appendix A – The application for a new premises licence.
• Appendix B – Location Plan.
• Appendix C – Representations. Part of the representations from the Police were attached as an Exempt Appendix to item 8 of the agenda.
The Chairman invited the applicant to present the application for a premises licence. Mr Ali said that he had applied for a premises licence to help him sustain his grocery business, which employed three people, through the sale of alcohol. He added that he was willing to accept any condition on the licence.
There being no questions, the Chairman invited those who had submitted representations against the application to state their objections. PC Cosser said that the applicant had not contacted Kent Police to discuss the application. The premises were located within a Cumulative Impact Policy (CIP) area and applicants were expected to have knowledge of the area when describing the steps they proposed to take to promote the licensing objectives. However, it was the view of the Police that no account had been taken in the application of the high levels of crime, street drinking and litter. Kent Police had therefore concluded that, if a premises licence was to be granted, the premises would have a negative effect on the area.
PC Cosser called PC Ince as a witness and asked him to describe his work in the area. PC Ince said that he was the Police Officer for Chatham Town Centre and, although progress had been made with issues such as homelessness, begging and street drinking, much of the crime in the location was drink related. He explained that he had to deal with incidents of assault on a weekly basis and an increase in the number of licensed premises would make it much harder for the Police and organisations such as Turning Point to get people the help they needed.
In conclusion, PC Cosser requested that the Panel refuse the application for a premises licence for Fresh Market.
The Public Health Project Officer presented the representations of the Director of Public Health. She stated that this area had the highest number of people attending A&E and the highest number of ambulance call-outs. It was a hot spot for public nuisance such as street drinking, alcohol related litter, urination, defecation and discarded drug paraphernalia. Evidence such as this had been used to support the introduction of the CIP.
The Public Health Project Officer reported that she had walked around the area on 8 April 2019 for a short while and described the numerous incidents of street drinking and associated anti-social behaviour she had witnessed. She expressed the view that none of these issues had been addressed by the applicant in his application for a premises licence.
Mr Ali questioned how the issues described by the objectors would be tackled if his premises were not granted a licence. PC Cosser repeated that the Police and other agencies were working to improve Chatham High Street and progress was being made. In response to a question from the Panel, the Public Health Project Officer said that the CIP stated very clearly that applicants should contact Public Health to discuss their application although this rarely happened. PC Cosser added that applicants contacted the Police more often and she was surprised that the applicant had not done so in this instance.
At this point, the Panel agreed to exclude the press and public from the hearing to enable discussion of the exempt information. PC Cosser presented this information as a further representation against the application for a premises licence. She again called PC Ince as a witness and he provided further details on the resource implications of dealing with such matters.
The applicant was asked by a member of the Panel to identify the four Licensing Objectives but was unable to do so. When prompted he said that he had experience of Challenge 25 and would not sell alcohol to under aged people or those under the influence of alcohol. In addition, all alcohol would be placed behind the counter.
Summing up, PC Cosser reaffirmed the opinion of Kent Police that another licenced premises in Chatham High Street, within a CIP area, was not required. Their concerns related to all four Licencing Objectives.
Mr Ali summed up by repeating that he was willing to accept any condition on the licence and that, without the ability to sell alcohol, his business would struggle as customers would shop elsewhere. He asked that a premises licence be granted on a trial basis for a period of six months.
All parties to the hearing left the room during the Panel’s deliberations and returned before the Chairman announced the Panel’s decision.
1. The Panel considered all the written evidence before it and had listened carefully to all the oral evidence presented by the applicant and by the Police (including the exempt information) and Public Health and unanimously decided to refuse the application for a premises licence for Fresh Market, 313a High Street, Chatham, Kent, ME4 4BN.
2. The Panel determined that it would not be appropriate to issue a licence as to do so would have a negative impact on Chatham High Street, within a Cumulative Impact Policy area.