New Romford Tesco wins alcohol licence despite police objections

�A new Tesco Express store in Romford will be allowed to sell alcohol, despite being in the middle of a Havering Council “saturation area”.

The council’s licensing sub-committee accepted the superstore’s argument that it wouldn’t contribute further to the area’s alcohol-related crime – against police advice.

The supermarket also came under fire for copying and pasting the words from previous applications elsewhere when they made the new one.

Havering Council’s saturation policy applies to Romford and Hornchurch town centres and is designed to enable a “presumption of refusal” for all new licensed premises on the basis that too many exist already.

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Police licensing officer Pc Dave Fern spoke about crime in the area, and presented the committee with a letter from police inspector Michael Bates which said: “The sale of cheap alcohol at any time is a problem to us and the licensed trade.

“Licensed venues in Romford are under significant pressure from us to prevent violence and disorder in their venues.

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“I would point out that with current Tesco venues operating across the borough they are considerable crime generators in their own rights and hotspots for local crime.”

Pc Fern said: “There aren’t any conditions that you could impose that could prevent the issues in this report.”

Consultant Graham Hopkins, from GT Licensing, speaking on behalf of several businesses in the area, said: “There’s nothing special about this application (to exempt it from the saturation area). It’s going to bring nothing new to a troubled area.”

But Jeremy Bark, representing Tesco, told the committee that the wording of the council’s saturation policy did not mean it had to refuse every single application.

He pointed out training that the company’s staff undertake, and policies they have in place, including checking anyone who looks under 25. Tesco provides best practice. “We operate in some of the most troubled areas, including Westminster, and we don’t have problems there.”

He added that crime figures may appear high for Tesco because the stores have so many more customers than other venues, and that the store had revised its application so that it will stop selling alcohol before the times with the highest crime rate.

Pc Fern had told the committee that checks on other Tesco stores in the borough recently had found some selling alcohol to under-age teenagers.

After Mr Bark’s speech he said: “You’ve spoken about the training you give, but you fail to speak about the cases two weeks ago.”

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