Peterborough City Council refuses new bar's alcohol licence due to fears over all day drinking in area that was previously blighted by 'drug-dealing and prostitution'

Members of Peterborough City Council Licensing Act 2003 Sub-Committee meeting have refused a license to sell alcohol at a premises on Russell Street on the basis that it would encourage anti-social behaviour in an area already notorious for trouble in the past.

Tuesday, 27th November 2018, 1:48 pm
Updated Tuesday, 8th January 2019, 9:57 pm
The applicant wanted all-day drinking permitted on the premises

The proposed bar/restaurant at 40 Russell Street is actually a newly partitioned area adjoining to 62 Cromwell Road, a property well known in the past for drug-dealing, loud and anti-social behaviour, street drinking, and prostitution.

In 2013, the occupants of 62 Cromwell Road had their alcohol license revoked by the council following many complaints by locals and visits by the police.

In separating the property, one part remains 62 Cromwell Road, while the other, just around the corner, becomes 40 Russell Street, but with a separate entrance.

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The applicant, who wishes to open a bar/restaurant called ‘Ponto de Amigos’ – ‘Point of Friends’ – proposes to sell alcohol from 8am until 11pm, and said: “There has been no trouble at the address for many years now, and we are completely separated from 62 Cromwell Road.”

However there were four objectors to the application at the meeting, among them former City Councillor, Richard Ferris who lives nearby. He said: “This area was blighted for many years by an alcohol license-holder who abused that grant, selling liquor to children, encouraging drug-dealing and prostitution at his premises. The people whose lives were made a living nightmare at that time have only just had their world returned to some kind of normality.”

“Peterborough Central Mosque is 200m away, the Council’s own centre for Voluntary Services just 300m down Cromwell Road, and mothers with schoolchildren walk right past that corner every day. Imagine the torture for these people were these incidents of drink-related anti-social behaviour to reoccur, all day and into the night.”

“It is true that my concern is based upon historic events at 62 Cromwell Road. But this applicant would have you believe that his property is nothing to do with that address because it has a different number, address and post code. The truth is 40 Russell Street is a partitioned area adjoined to 62 Cromwell Road, and the people who live in that area remember only too well the troubles they endured last time somebody had an alcohol license there.”

“It is my understanding that the applicant wishes to open a bar/restaurant. If that is the case then why not sell alcohol as part of a meal, or restrict sales to wine and cider without the need for an ‘open all hours’ attitude to off sales.”

“I object most strongly to this license being granted on the grounds that it has the potential to return an area that has only recently recovered from alcohol-induced trouble, to one where parents will not be able to walk their children, and the pavements will become a home again for drunks, drug-dealers and prostitutes.”

Cllr Peter Hiller asked the applicant why they need to sell alcohol from as early as 8am and throughout the day late into the night.

He replied: “It is part of our culture to drink with friends throughout the day.”

Cllr Hiller said: “I understand you want to create a continental-style restaurant, playing music and selling meals to your friends, but what I don’t understand is why you need to sell alcohol as early in the morning as 8am – do you think it is normal to drink at 8am in the morning?”

The applicant simply responded again: “I don’t want a restaurant. It is a bar. It is in our culture to drink all day.”

Speaking as an objector to the application Cllr Amjad Iqbal said: “This applicant has a lease that prohibits the sale of alcohol on the premises, and for very good historic reasons. How can the Council possibly expect them to adhere to the strict conditions that an alcohol license would impose on them, if they can’t even abide by the terms of their lease?”

Also speaking as an objector to the application, Cllr Mohammed Jamil said: “I have nothing personal against the applicant, but past experience tells me that this building and this location are simply not suitable for an alcohol license, especially one that allows for the selling of drink all day long. I was a governor of the nearby school, and heard nothing but complaints from parents about the premises at 62 Cromwell Road and the trouble mothers had simply walking past it.”

“I realise that 40 Russell Street is a different address and post code, but the property has not changed at all, only a simple stud-wall separation has partitioned the premises, and an extra door been added. If the Council were to grant this license I can see this area returning very quickly to the nightmare, no-go land it once was – which was why we revoked the license from the previous occupants.”

Chairman, Cllr Gul Nawaz, said to the applicant: “You have heard all of the objections; is there anything you wish to add to your application?”, but the applicant simply repeated their earlier statement, saying: “Drinking in our culture is normal. I see nothing wrong with drinking at 8am through to 11pm.”

Cllrs unanimously refused the alcohol license on the grounds that it was inappropriate for the area, that it could encourage crime, that it could encourage anti-social behaviour and that it was detrimental to the protection of children.