New supermarket could sell booze from 6am
SUPERMARKET giant Tesco could be selling alcohol from 6am from its new store in Portishead if councillors approve its licence application.
The retailer has applied to North Somerset Council for a licence to allow it to sell alcohol at its proposed new Express store at the former Royal Oak pub at West Hill from 6am to 11pm. If approved, the Tesco store will be the earliest place in the town where alcohol can be purchased. The town's Waitrose supermarket opens at 7am from Monday to Saturday but people cannot buy alcohol until 8am. The Whitecott convenience store at St Peter's Road also has an alcohol licence but despite opening at 6am, can only start selling alcohol at 8am. Costcutters at West Hill – just a stone's throw from the proposed new Express store, also opens at 7am but cannot sell alcohol until 8am.
The owner of Costcutters, Icy Patel, questioned the need for another off licence in the area. Mr Patel, who is also a town councillor, said: "All outlets in the town, as far as I am aware, cannot sell alcohol until 8am.
"We have around a dozen off licences at supermarkets and convenience stores in Portishead and I cannot see the need for another.
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"Also in West Hill alone, there are two places where people can buy alcohol from 8am to 11pm, so I can't see the need for another outlet."
Portishead Tesco Action Group (PTAG) set up to fight the new Express store has also objected to the licence.
PTAG chairman Paul Dunn said: "We already have two outlets selling alcohol and we don't need a third, as this could lead to more anti-social behaviour, including more noise and even more litter for local residents to endure.
"PTAG will oppose this application and will attend the meeting of the licensing committee, when it is held, to express our outright opposition.
"PTAG wants the council to put local people first, not huge corporations that are only interested in huge profits for the few."
Under current planning legislation, the supermarket giant does not need a change of use permission to use the building as a supermarket.
Tesco bosses estimate the new store will attract around 8,000 customers a week and will benefit the area, bringing additional business to West Hill.
Local residents have already handed a 2,700 name petition to councillors objecting to the store opening.
They claim the supermarket will attract additional traffic to the site, on a blind bend, and could force other traders in the area out of business.
They also fear a late night licence could increase levels of anti-social behaviour in the area.
Work is continuing to prepare the store ready for opening, and although no firm date has been set yet, it is hoped to be operational by the spring.
Tesco plans to open the store between 6am and 10pm or 7am and 11pm, although opening hours have yet to be finalised.
Tesco corporate affairs manager Sophie Akokhia said: "The licensing application gives us flexibility once the store opening hours are confirmed."
The application is due to be discussed by councillors next month.