Newsagent granted alcohol licence despite concerns

The new convenience store will be located in the former Go Direct shop
The new convenience store will be located in the former Go Direct shop -Credit:Copyright Unknown

Wirral Council has granted a licence for a new convenience store despite concerns being raised about a past court case.

Hastyar Husseni had applied for a premises licence for a new convenience store at 351 Woodchurch Road in Prenton to be open and selling alcohol from 8am until midnight. The application had received no opposition from authorities like Merseyside Police but a number of neighbours said antisocial behaviour, underage drinkers, and drugs were an issue in the area.

The local authority ultimately decided to grant the licence at a licensing committee meeting on May 17 but with two changes to the original application. One was to only allow deliveries between 9am to 9pm to limit disruption to neighbours and the other was that no person is named on the licence until one is later approved by Wirral Council.

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This means the off licence will not be able to sell alcohol until then though some neighbours had concerns as an “off licence” sign had already been put above the shop. Despite not being approved as the licence holder, representatives said Mr Husseni will still be one of three partners involved in the running of the business.

Concerns were raised during the meeting about a previous court case where Mr Husseni pleaded guilty in 2019 of selling alcohol to a teenager at Wrexham Off License, formerly Euro Delikatesy, on two occasions. He was given a £356 court bill and the licence was revoked with the business later closing down.

Mr Husseni was not at the May 17 licensing meeting as he was visiting family in Iraq but he was represented by his two business partners and an agent, Tony Clarke from JMC Licensing. Mr Clarke said Mr Husseni regretted what had happened in Wrexham, had had no issues since, and said he was not on the premises at the time of those incidents.

However he acknowledged he was not aware of the details of the case until council officers pointed out it had been raised in the objections. Mr Clarke said: “I remember him being remorseful but I didn't put two and two together.”

At one point, Cllr Andrew Hodson, when asking about Mr Husseni’s involvement in the business if the licence was changed, said: “You are trying to manage this on the hoof” to which Mr Clarke said: “We are trying to find an answer to your question.”

Sue Aldridge who lives nearby had concerns about the application claiming she had seen people weighing drugs and under age drinking was already happening in the alleyway near the shop. However she said she was open to working with the off licence on moving forward.

She said: “We already have a problem with underage drinking in the field in the summer and in the playground,” adding: “It will be increased because they will get more alcohol. Sainsbury’s are shutting their toilets earlier because of the youth problems because they are messing around.”

Addressing concerns about antisocial behaviour, Mr Clarke said: “There are certain things my client can do to protect people and staff and the public in general,” adding: “There is no evidence that this can happen as long as the shop is managing the behaviour properly on the inside of the shop.”

Spirits will be kept behind the counter with a Challenge 25 policy as well as refusal notices posted inside the shop. In his closing remarks, Mr Clarke said: ”We have put a robust application forward based on the licensing objectives,” adding: “I feel like we have done everything that we possibly can.”

When coming to its decision, Wirral Council said it had taken into account there had been no comments made on the application from authorities such as Merseyside Police, Trading Standards, and licensing officers.

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