Chris Black writes:
Last night I stumbled across the council site notice next to Asda which mentioned the licensing application for 24-hour sale of alcohol. (The council website says the hours are 00:00 to 00:00 because the software won’t let you write 00:00 to 24:00).
Now, it’s very important that licensing applicantions are dealt with properly and impartially, so I’m just writing the following to clarify things for residents.
First of all, I was told today that Asda do NOT intend to open 24 hours per day . In fact they are no longer asking for a display sign to say “24 hours “. I understand that they are giving an undertaking to turn off an illuminated sign at night-time. They presumably want to have 24 hours alcohol license just in case they change their mind at some stage.
Secondly – I was surprised to learn that when the inspector granted permission to Asda he didn’t include an condition about opening hours so they can open 24 hours a day if they want to. (there are restrictions on delivery times). I really should have spotted this absence in the inspector’s decision letter (!) not that there was anything that could be done about it.
Next, the council have sent me the following quote from government guidance :
paragraph 10.21 states – ‘Shops, stores and supermarkets should normally be free to provide sales of alcohol for consumption off the premises at any times when the retail outlet is open for shopping unless there are good reasons based on the licensing objectives for restricting those hours. For example a limitation may be appropriate following (police) representations in the case of some shops known to be a focus of disorder and disturbance because youths gather there.’
How you can judge whether Asda will be a ‘focus of disorder’ before it opens is unclear.
Please note that any representations must be made in writing by 26 September to the Licensing Unit at the address below setting out details of the person making them including their address and the grounds upon which they are made.
Rochford District Council
Tel: 01702 318036
Every reader of this web site must write to the Licensing Manager objecting otherwise say goodbye to peaceful evenings.
Well its all coming true, the initial Asda planning application that was not approved the tailing back of their original plan to get it finally approved and now bit by bit, applications to amend their approved plan to bring it back or indeed to increase what they wanted in the first place! Plus the application to get a licence for the selling of drink on a 24 hour basis. Anyone who does not believe that eventually they will want to use this approval to sell drink on a 24 hour basis must be mad. Asda and the Council must think the residents of Rayleigh are soft touches, it really is unbelievable. It is an insult to the residents of this town!!!!
To say that I feel let down by the system in respect of ASDA would be a gross understatement.
I think it would be fair to say that neither Councillors or residents were made aware of the fact that conditions were effectively “zeroed” when the appeal decision was made and that it was the job of the Inspector to assign conditions as they saw fit. As a result the condition that councillors agreed (by way of a vote) to limlit ASDA’s opening hours was removed at appeal and we now have a situation where ASDA can lawfully change their hours to 24 hour trading at any time in the future.
As they are applying for a 24 hour licence to sell alcohol this would appear to be their intention, otherwise why would apply for a licence when the shop would be closed! Residents and the council now have no further opportunity to object to the trading hours and this in itself has the potential to have a massive impact on the local amenity of residents.
It is NOT right to say that there was nothing that could be done about it. The opportunity to apply for judicial review of the appeal decision did exist but I am advised that it is too late now for this to go ahead as it is “out of time”.
Why is it now out of time? From a conversation with an experienced councillor it appears not to be standard procedure for council officers, the paid professionals, to give advice to councillors on the key points in appeal decisions. The effect of this is to leave councillors, and therefore the residents that they represent and work on behalf of, with no access to professional advice and guidance on development issues of such high profile and impact as this.
Surely it should not be expected that when officials are paid as professionals working to support the work of the Council that it should be left to “semi professional ” councillors and residents with limited time, knowledge and resources to decipher the outcomes of appeals and operate effectively within the legal minefield that is development control, while the likes of ASDA have a legion of experienced professional legal experts used to playng the game and with the time and money to devote to their case.
It is, in my opinion, the role of our council, its officials and elected councillors to ensure that residents have the information they need to take their case as far as they deem necessary and in this instance I believe we have been let down and not provided with all the relevant information that would have allowed us to make full use of our opportunities to oppose ASDA’s application for 24 hour trading.
I, for one, will be finding out if there is anything more that can be done to challenge this situation. I would be alarmed to think that this is the best that the Council can do to support its residents and protect their rights and interests.
Hi Jackie, Glad you are getting involved, sounds like there is something very fishy going on here. It makes you wonder. Good luck.
I have just received a reply from Kevin Doyland in response to my online rejection. I have pasted it below.
Note his comments that Asda has NO restriction on opening hours.
I acknowledge receipt of your comments on the above application.
Unfortunately there are 2 matters I should bring to your attention and, may I say, it is not the Council but the Licensing Act that makes this necessary:-
1. You cannot make an objection, in this case, to an application for a 24 hour licence because the official guidance says that shops, etc. if granted a licence should be allowed to sell alcohol for the hours the shop is open. In Asda’s case there are no opening hour restrictions so, unless there are exceptional circumstances, the licence will be for 24 hours. Conversely, you can object to the grant of a licence to sell alcohol at all provided it is based upon one of the licensing objectives of preventing crime & disorder; preventing public nuisance; public safety; protecting children from harm.
2. Whilst we make an online facility available, the law requires you to make your objection in writing also. Whilst this may seem like duplication, it does allow us to communicate quickly, as in this case, so that you are not disadvantaged. You will need to make your objection by 26 September for it to be considered.
So what is the point of having a facility to log an objection using the Council Website, we have also got to put it in writing – the council may have time to waste doing things in duplicate, but I don’t!
How can I put this – Asda has stiched us up like a kipper…….
Surely this deserves some sort of investigation from the start of the Asda application to build through to the debacle that now gives them the option to open for 24 hours a day to sell drink. There has to be lessons that that can be learnt over this. If the Council will not conduct a full investigation I will start a campaign to get someone to do it!
Just had a thought – as the dangers of binge and excessive drinking are in the press more often than not these days – we can add the word “irresponsible” to the already penned “inconsiderate” for this Asda store.
As each day passes and another Asda gem comes to like, it is becoming clearly apparant that Asda do not give two figs about the local community, and are only concerned about their profits.
I have said it before, and I will say it again – how can a store with an expected anual revenue of £23,000,000 be a local store?
It is clearly apparant now that this Tory council do not listen to the local community, and I look forward to the next elections when hopefully, the Lib Dems will remind the residents of Rayleigh what a debarcle the council have made with Asda – that it was the National Labour government that sent an inspector who approved the store, and let’s hope that Hockley gets the Lib Dem council that we know will listen to its residents.