Fishponds Road shop given late-night alcohol licence despite police concerns over sex workers

January 05 2021
Fishponds Road shop given late-night alcohol licence despite police concerns over sex workers

A CONVENIENCE store in Eastville has been given a licence to sell alcohol until 2.30am, despite police concerns it could fuel incidents involving alcoholic sex workers in the area.

Global Food Mart in Fishponds Road has been given the late licence for Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

But its current planning permission only allows it to open until 11pm each day.

Boby Varghese, who runs Global Food Mart, has been opening the store until 12.30am every day in breach of that consent, a Bristol City Council licensing committee heard.

Mr Varghese originally applied to extend the opening hours and hours for the sale of alcohol until 2.30am every day, but limited the application to the weekends after police objected.

Louise Mowbray from Avon and Somerset Police told the committee the area was “highly problematic” for local officers, with a clear link between alcohol supply and crime and disorder.

She said officers were particularly concerned about issues related to local sex workers, one of whom stood accused of alleged assault after an incident outside the shop in September.

Some of the sex workers are alcoholics and frequent the local convenience stores regularly,” she said.

The community is already serviced by a 24-hour convenience store in Fishponds Road, which is in near proximity, so there is little justification, need or requirement to extend the hours requested.”

Newsagent Bus Stop News lies a short walk from Global Food Mart and has a 24/7 licence to sell alcohol, the committee heard.

But Peter Rosser, representing Global Food Mart, argued that Global stocked a wider range of grocery items and needed to open later to satisfy a growing demand, partly driven by shift workers returning from central Bristol.

Mr Rosser said: “By denying the opportunity for Global to remain open for their customers after 12.30am, Thursday to Saturday, this would effectively be endorsing the monopoly position of Bus Stop News and denying choice to local residents.

Please bear in mind that alcohol is available 24/7 just 50 yards away, so this is not a case of making alcohol available where there was none before.

Global News will provide an alternative place to shop for residents with a wider range of groceries including fresh foods in a more spacious, well-lit and well-run premises.”

Mr Rosser’s comments were echoed by resident Adrian Talasman, who lives in a flat above Global Food Mart and spoke in support of the application.

Three members of the public made written objections to the application. One was made anonymously and one came from the Bus Stop News licensee.

The committee granted the new licensing hours unanimously, with the proviso that the store would not open past 11pm unless its planning application for later opening hours was approved.

The store has 24 CCTV cameras and two staff on duty past 6pm every night, the meeting heard.

The meeting took place virtually in December.

By Amanda Cameron, Local Democracy Reporting Service