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Convenience store in Ouston granted off-licence despite protests from residents
4:04pm Tuesday 18th September 2012 in Chester-le-Street
A VILLAGE shop has been granted an off-licence to sell alcohol despite overwhelming protests from residents who fear a flare-up of anti-social behavior.
Sunderland shopkeeper Santokh Singh and his wife Manjyot Kaur were given permission to sell alcohol at the Arcadia Convenience Store, in Arcadia, Ouston, near Chester-le-Street , from 7am to 9pm every day.
Durham County Council’s statutory licensing sub-committee meeting in Chester-le-Street today was told residents were worried they would experience the same problems they had when the store operated as Ouston C Mart.
The off-licence was surrendered by the previous owner in February last year. A petition saying there was no need for another convenience store selling alcohol was signed by more than 50 residents in Ouston and Urpeth, while the Villagers Association is also opposed the plan on behalf of residents.
Local county councilor Colin Carr, speaking for the objectors, said: “There is a great deal of feeling against this application after what happened with the previous licensing situation.
“My objection is based on public safety and the prevention of public nuisance.
“The premises were previously operated as a general store and off-licence when there was substantial anti-social behavior because of the sale of alcohol from the store.”
He added, members of the public often felt threatened by youths who also created problems in nearby residential streets.
And concerns had also been expressed by governors of Ouston Junior School, because of the proximity of the shop to the school.
Solicitor Matthew Foster, representing Mr Singh and his wife, said they were “experienced and responsible operators” who already ran shops with off-licences in the Ashbrooke area of Sunderland and in Ferryhill, County Durham - where they had no problems.
He said there would be "robust policing" to prevent under-age drinking, including a Challenge 25 policy, while records for training refusals and any incidents would be available for inspection – as well as a digital CCTV system.
Ms Kaur told the committee that to operate as convenience store they would need to stock a full range of products, including alcohol, or customers would go elsewhere and not return.