Fight to stop alcohol shop in troubled Stevenage neighbourhood

Residents are fighting a newsagent’s plan to sell alcohol 17 hours a day, which they say will increase crime, anti-social behaviour and alcoholism in the area.

The owners of Martins Newsagents at the St Nicholas community shops in Stevenage have applied for a licence to serve alcohol from 6am to 11pm – effectively turning it into an off-licence and extending its evening opening time by four hours.

But the move has sparked strong opposition by residents who say it will aggravate an already poor crime record in the neighbourhood.

Over 140 people have signed petitions against the plan, which will be decided by the Stevenage Borough Council licensing committee.

One of the lead opponents, David Watson, said: “It will result in more crime, anti-social behaviour, alcoholism and health problems which will have a serious effect on everyone living in the St Nicolas area.

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“I cannot understand how any responsible council can add to the major problems to quality of life in the community and to people’s health. We will end up with young kids hanging about in the streets drinking, causing aggravation and crime, and intimidating decent people who live nearby.”

Herts Police also submitted objections to the plan. A licensing officer said stores selling cigarettes and alcohol during the evening can attract unwanted attention.

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He added, that in view of the vulnerability of the location he was “very concerned” that an 11pm closing time would increase the “crime and disorder that the area has been subjected to in the past”.

The standard of CCTV equipment on the premises was also a concern. The constabulary recommended a closing time of 8pm.

The application will be heard by the licensing committee on September 3.

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