Concerns about town's drunken behaviour raised as gift shop aims to sell booze

East Street in Newquay
-Credit: (Image: Google Maps)

Residents of a street in Newquay have raised concerns about the possibility of drunken bad behaviour in the town increasing if a nearby Cornish gift shop is allowed to start selling alcohol.

A Cornwall Council licensing committee will decide next week if All Things Cornwall in East Street will be allowed to sell alcohol from 7am to 9pm seven days a week. Although there has been no objections from the police or licensing authority, the council has received a letter from a couple who live in the street highlighting problems associated with drinking in the area.

Sue and Vernon Roberts say that almost daily drinking results in intimidation, fighting, foul language and litter. "At times it feels like this part of East Street is a 'no go' area," they say.

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The applicant, Craig Jenkin, has told the council that his business - which is in a Cumulative Impact Zone (CIZ) - will "ensure awareness through rigorous staff training, regular risk assessments and ongoing consultation, enabling us to identify and address challenges encountered in daily operations" and will proactively mitigate negatively impacting the CIZ.

The impact zones were set up in areas where there is a high density of premises selling alcohol in a bid to negate associated crime and disorder, antisocial behaviour and public nuisance.

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Mrs Roberts, who owned a business on East Street from 1972 to 1996 and still lives on the street with her husband, told the council: "I am sure you are aware of the constant antisocial behaviour that occurs usually outside the post office but also outside Bargain Booze [an off licence based on the street]. As residents, and many tourists, we suffer from intimidation, sometimes intentionally, fighting, foul language, litter, and at times it feels like this part of East Street is a 'no go' area.

"The drinking and drug-taking that occurs almost daily is partly as a result of the sale of alcohol being readily available throughout the day and evening. In my opinion the sale of individual cans of alcohol from Bargain Booze also encourages and contributes to this behaviour and is something that could be looked into as part of their licence.

"I understand that All Things Cornwall are not planning to sell individual cans of alcohol but there is absolutely no need for any further alcohol to be sold in East Street."

Mr Jenkin responded to the Roberts' concerns in a letter to them and the council's licensing department.

He said: "Firstly, I want to express my sympathy to Mr and Mrs Roberts regarding the antisocial behaviour they have endured. Having worked in retail myself, I have also been targeted for abuse and intimidation both at work and in the surrounding area. It is an unpleasant experience to manage.

"Regarding Mr and Mrs Roberts' view that no further licensed premises are needed, it is important to note that the addition of another licensed venue does not necessarily increase antisocial behaviour. It would distribute existing sales among three establishments instead of two, but it does not inherently raise the overall demand for alcohol.

"In line with the store's ethos, my intention is to sell locally crafted alcohol rather than cheaper, value products, which I believe are more likely to be purchased by those engaging in anti-social behaviour. For example, during my visits to Tesco and Bargain Booze, I observed that a 70cl bottle of whisky retails at approximately £17. My suppliers offer locally crafted gin, rum, or whisky at a cost to me higher than this, which means my retail prices will target tourists and customers who appreciate quality and support local businesses, rather than those seeking inexpensive alcohol.

"My primary concern regarding anti-social behaviour is the potential for theft, and I am fully prepared to protect my business against such threats."

The applicant added: "Denying a licence to a shop that aims to attract more locals and tourists to the area seems counter-productive. Since opening, the feedback from customers has been overwhelmingly positive, with many praising the cleanliness of the shop, the quality of the products, and the benefit of having such a store in this part of town.

"I am committed to not retailing single cans and bottles of beer, lager and cider, and none of the products we sell will have an ABV over six per cent. This approach could be proposed to other establishments as a potential solution to help address the current issues."

The council's licensing committee will make a decision on the application on Wednesday, June 26.