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Off licence in Ealing has new licence granted 6 months after it was revoked

An off-licence in Ealing has been granted a new alcohol permit six months after losing its last one for selling booze to street drinkers.

The new owners of the Nest (formerly the Best) Off Licence in Hanwell were granted the licence after demonstrating that they had no association with the previous owners and on the condition that no one who previously worked there is allowed in the shop during licensable hours.

Hanwell has been designated a ‘special policy area’ by police because of its problems with street drinking. Representations were made by Ealing Council’s community safety team and the Met as well as ward councillor Yoel Gordon.

The applicant, Daljeet Singh Kakar withstood a grilling by councillors who picked through his business background, employment history and personal ties to the previous owners to ensure the new licence would not mean a ‘continuation’ of the shop’s previous ownership. Mr Kakar attempted to reassure Ealing’s licencing sub-committee that he was breaking with the old regime by proposing self-imposed conditions in his application.

This included the prohibition of single cans, high-strength beers and ciders and the promise to train staff to a high level. He also proposed a change in the shop’s layout and stock with a shift away from primarily selling alcohol and towards selling speciality Asian food products.

“It will be like Tesco,” he told the committee but added that the shop would not deviate from its long history of selling speciality whiskies which he said still holds a crucial client base from the off-licence. The Nest is ‘well known’ for stocking whiskies that can sell for upwards of £400.

Chair Cllr Anthony Kelly made sure to clarify what Mr Kakar meant by specialist alcohol saying: “Obviously people have different interpretations of specialist alcohol; one could argue that a £500 bottle of whiskey is specialist and one could argue that a 10 per cent can of larger is also specialist but for very different reasons.”

Mr Kakar confirmed that booze would be restricted to the sort people could find in other supermarkets such as cheap wine, normal strength beer plus specialist whiskies. However, Cllr Gordon was not convinced by the owner’s new plans. He said: “I’ve been a councillor in the ward for 14 years now and really remember the shop being a source of problematic and semi-criminal behaviour.”

Referring to the shop’s history, he pointed out that it was littered with owners losing their licences, rebranding, and then returning, bringing the same issues with them. Cllr Gordon said the name change ‘trick’ has already seen the Nest become the Best and back again.

He said that Mr Kakar seemed to be ‘pulling the same trick and it will not go down well with the residents that have had to put up with the poor behaviour of the ownership throughout the period I have been a councillor’.

The Met’s PC James Bradshaw reinforced Cllr Gordon’s concerns to the council. He told the committee: “This is all going to be the same,” continuing that the area was already ‘oversaturated’ with places to buy booze and reinstating the Nest’s licence would do nothing to help the police prevent street drinking.

He added that he wasn’t convinced by Mr Kakar’s plans to change the make-up of the shop’s stock, saying: “The focus of the store [still] seems to be around alcohol.”

However, the committee seemed satisfied with Mr Kakar’s plan and his lack of connection to the old ownership. Cllr Kelly read out the council’s decision to grant the licence on the added condition that no one from the previous ownership, including former employees, were allowed on the premises during licensable hours.