Cottam Co-op gets alcohol licence after compromise over late-night sales

A new Co-op store coming to Cottam has been told that it can sell alcohol until 10pm, after striking a last-minute compromise with locals who had objected to plans for later liquor sales.

Monday, 17th August 2020, 4:00 pm

The convenience chain had originally applied for an alcohol licence for the full duration of the planned opening hours at its forthcoming outlet on Merry Trees Lane – between 6am until 11pm.

However, more than a dozen residents complained that the move would potentially cause crime and anti-social behaviour.

A meeting of Preston City Council’s licensing committee heard that the Co-op had previously offered to stop selling alcohol at 10pm – but only if all of the locals withdrew their objections. All bar one did so – and the company said it had already decided that its offer would stand in any case.

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The site of the forthcoming Co-op store on Merry Trees Lane in Cottam - and the Cottam Community Centre which will sit alongside it

Richard Arnott, a licensing specialist representing the Co-op, told the committee that the food firm had sophisticated CCTV to deter troublemakers and specialist staff training and till procedures to safeguard against the inappropriate sale of alcohol.

However, committee chair John Potter drew a contrast between the security arrangements in and around the shop and the wider area.

“Directly behind the new store is a well-used cycle and public footpath, leading behind a community centre and a primary school. Within a few yards outside your store [people] will be in almost complete darkness [at night] and may cause anti-social behaviour – do you understand those concerns that residents have?” Cllr Potter asked.

Mr. Arnott said he would answer the question with an anecdote about a “very angry” licensing committee hearing in another part of the country at which residents had also objected to the retailer being given an alcohol licence.

The cycle path behind the planned new Co-op store, which residents feared would provide a place for alcohol-fuelled anti-social behaviour (image: Neil Cross)

“They all now shop in that Co-op – despite their anger, they now realise that those things they were scared of haven’t happened – and it will be exactly the same here.

“We have every reason – moral and commercial – not to let anybody down,” he added.

Mr. Arnott claimed that the comments of the lone objector who had declined not to withdraw showed that he just “didn’t want a shop” in the location – and mostly related to planning matters that had already been decided.

Christine Abram, vice chair of Lea and Cottam Parish Council, speaking on behalf of all the former objectors, said residents would be “delighted” at the compromise.

Trevor Hart, chair of Cottam Community Centre, which is next door to the new store, said the outcome was “the best we could have wished for”.

“The last thing we wanted to see was people coming out of the pubs at 10pm and wandering over to the Co-op and buying alcohol until 11.

“I am pleased with the decision and I am grateful to the Co-op for taking such a community-spirited line and working with us,” Mr. Hart said.

The store is expected to open next summer.