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Police fear new Wembley cash and carry could ‘fuel street crime and start a price war’

Police have warned that allowing a Wembley cash and carry to sell alcohol could ‘fuel street crime and start a price war’ with other shops in the area. Officers claim there is already an issue with people taking alcohol to a nearby park where they litter and are a nuisance to residents.

Brent Council has received an application for a new alcohol licence for Devi Cash and Carry on Ealing Road in Wembley, where it will sell lottery tickets and parcel services, as well as soft drinks, confectionery and alcohol. The applicant, Iyathurai Kanan, wants to remain open and sell alcohol from 8am until 11pm every day.

However, documents submitted to the council reveal that both the police and licensing officers are calling for the plan to be thrown out. The force is concerned about increasing the sale and consumption of alcohol in an area where there are already a number of places to buy alcohol and an existing problem with street drinking.

In response to the application, the police’s licensing unit suggested there was no benefit in adding ‘another bog standard off-licence’ to the area and fear it would exacerbate issues with littering and crime that are already prevalent.

PC Brendon McInnes said: “Ealing Road already has a number of convenience stores, off licences and supermarkets that already supply what a cash and carry would expect to provide. This community does not require another venue selling alcohol which will only fuel street crime, ASB (antisocial behaviour) and create price wars between rival off-licences.”

He added: “Licensed premises on Ealing road already contribute to street drinking where the customers will buy alcohol and then congregate in ‘One Tree Hill Recreational Ground’ where the empty cans and bottles along with other litter is discarded in the park causing nuisance to the local residents.

The premises falls within a cumulative impact zone (CIZ) – areas where licences are strictly controlled to limit any problems. It was introduced in January 2020 in order to combat a rise in the types of crime that are linked to alcohol consumption and abuse. There is a presumption that any new licence for the sale of alcohol in these areas won’t be granted.

Since 2016, there has been a ‘significant and notable’ increase in alcohol related crime and antisocial behaviour, according to the council. It is claimed this is having an ‘adverse impact’ in some areas and also generating complaints from residents and councillors, as well as the police.

The council’s licensing officer has also recommended that the application be refused: They said: “The operating schedule fails to demonstrate that a grant will not lead to a negative cumulative impact on one or more of the licensing objectives and to the contrary add to the issues of an existing saturated area.”

However, Mr Kanan’s agent claims he is ‘very experienced’ in running businesses within CIZ zones and understands the ‘seriousness of the application’. They have agreed to work  alongside the council and police to make sure the licensing objectives are upheld.

To achieve this, Mr Kanan has committed to refreshing all employee training, installing CCTV throughout the store, instigating a ‘Challenge 25’ policy, and put up ‘Street Drinking Not Permitted’ signs to discourage customers from doing so.

The application will be heard by Brent Council’s Alcohol and Licensing Sub-Committee next month (February 7) when a decision on whether to grant the licence will be made.