Shop denied drinks licence due to ‘lawlessness’ in Holyhead Road area of Handsworth

Torri Donley

A shop has failed to gain a licence to sell alcohol after police said there are already too many problems in the area linked to booze. A Birmingham City Council licensing sub-committee meeting last week heard West Midlands Police are “struggling” to deal with issues in Holyhead Road and Soho […]

A shop has failed to gain a licence to sell alcohol after police said there are already too many problems in the area linked to booze.

A Birmingham City Council licensing sub-committee meeting last week heard West Midlands Police are “struggling” to deal with issues in Holyhead Road and Soho Road, Handsworth.

These include begging, street drinking and prostitution, according to police, who said “enough is enough” in an appeal to councillors to refuse the application from European Mini Market.

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Members of the Soho Road business improvement district (BID) also attended and agreed with licensing officer PC Abdool Rohomon’s account of the area’s problems.

At the meeting, a statement was read from the shop owners who said every licence in the area should be revoked if theirs was to be refused.

Now, the sub-committee, chaired by Cllr Mike Leddy (Lab) and also including Cllr Mary Locke (Lab) and Cllr Martin Straker Welds (Lab), have published its decision.

The decision states the area is “fraught with social problems and lawlessness”.

It states: “[Police] statements gave a detailed account of the disproportionate amount of crime, antisocial behaviour, street drinking, drug use, rough sleeping and aggressive begging (all of which were alcohol-related), and also an increase in the presence of sex workers, in and around Soho Road.

“These problems were persisting despite the imposition of a public space protection order in 2017.

“One of the police sergeants observed that residents in the vicinity had complained to police that they were ‘afraid to go shopping’ and that they had ‘never seen Soho Road so bad’.

“There was nothing in the application to show that the applicant understood either the area in which he wished to operate, or the impact that a new alcohol-licensed premises would have; nor had the applicant attended the meeting so that the sub-committee could ask questions.

“Two members of the Soho Road BID management team […] stated that the area was ‘at breaking point’ and confirmed that all of the problems outlined by Police were predominantly caused by alcohol.

“They felt that the area had badly deteriorated in recent times.

“The sub-committee agreed that management style was of paramount
importance in any ‘difficult’ area.

“It was therefore very unfortunate that the applicant had not attended the meeting to address the sub-committee directly – particularly given that the applicant’s own plan showed that such a high percentage of shop floor space was to be used for alcohol.”

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