I attended a hearing of Cambridge City Council‘s Licensing Panel, which granted a premises licence to Sainsbury’s for its new store on the Cambridge Leisure Park. The store is not trading yet, but is likely to open early next year, underneath the budget hotel — and opposite Tesco’s.
As explained in my previous post, the Leisure Park was designated a cumulative impact zone.because of high levels of booze-fuelled crime in the Hills Road/ Cherry Hinton Road area and a high number of places selling alcohol – 17 on the Leisure Park alone, plus wine shops and off-licences nearby. This means that new drinks licences are only issued if the applicant can demonstrate that their operation will not make existing alcohol-related crime worse.
Premises licence applications are not well publicised, and they go through automatically if there are no objections. When I first heard about this one, there were no objections on file, so I put in my own. I did this because first: I cannot see how a new store selling alcohol can avoid making the alcohol-related crime worse, and secondly: because I thought the proposed finish time of 11 p.m. was too late. I asked that if the committee were minded to approve the application, that the drinks sales should stop at 9 p.m., as does the Sainsbury’s in St Andrew’s Street.
There have been three other objections: one from the manager of the Essentialz shop on the Hills Road Bridge, one from the chair of the Rustat Road Residents’ Association, and one from the police. The objections performed a function, as they enhanced the dialogue between the police and the supermarket, so that by the time of the meeting yesterday, the application had been amended for the better, including an earlier closing time of 10 p.m. (for the drinks sales, not the store). There was also an undertaking to provide security guards on Friday and Saturday nights, and to have the alcohol area locked with shutters outside licence hours. There will be no strong beer or cider on sale and Sainsbury’s will operate a policy of asking anyone looking under 25 to show ID. They will join CAMBAC, (Cambridge Businesses Against Crime).
The police and the residents’ association were satisfied with the changes and withdrew their objections, but the hearing still went ahead, as there were still two objections sustained.
I am impressed with the provisions that have been put in place and I hope they work. Sainsbury’s assured us that they have a national pricing policy and are not likely to get into a price war with Tesco’s (also on the Leisure Park) – but there are other outlets nearby and I hope they behave responsibly too.
We shall wait and see.