A supermarket has been granted a licence to sell alcohol at extended hours on Sundays even though the current trading laws don’t allow it to.
Lidl doesn’t intend to break the law by selling booze illegally at its store in Wolverton Road, Blakelands, but it wants to be ready to go, without the need to go through all the red tape, if the Sunday trading laws change.
The store is also prevented from selling alcohol through the conditions of planning permission, after the new store was approved earlier this year.
The supermarket’s application for a licence to sell alcohol from 7am to 11pm for seven days a week was considered by a meeting of Milton Keynes Council’s licensing sub-committee last week.
The meeting was told that objections from Great Linford Parish Council to the licence could not be overcome. The parish council did not want to prevent a licence being granted but to cut the hours because of fears it would increase anti-social behaviour in the Redhouse Park area.
The licensing sub-committee was called on Thursday (Nov 14) to allow councillors to make a decision. They decided to give Lidl what it wanted after being told that the parish council could not provide evidence of problems in the area. The police did not lodge an objection.
On Lidl’s behalf, lawyer Amanda Pillinger, of Pillinger & Associates, said that if the Sunday trading laws are amended, they would not have to make another application to the council.
“With more than 700 premises operating in the UK, you will appreciate that this would be an onerous and costly exercise,” she told the committee.
Parish councillor David Stabler said he thought the Sunday hours application was “more than perverse” and “nonsense”. The parish council wanted trading to be restricted to 8am to 10pm on Mondays to Saturdays, and six hours between 10am and 5pm on Sundays.
Cllr Stabler added: “We suggested a compromise but Lidl were not prepared to compromise.”
And responding to a claim that there was no evidence of anti-social behaviour in the area, parish manager Eirwen Tagg said: “We are the parish council. There is a problem.”
And she claimed that would be an increased public nuisance from groups of youths gathering and from issues like broken bottles of glass.
But council licensing officer Adam Ward said the problem of under-age sales “tends to be from smaller convenience stores”.
He added that if problems occurred that could be laid at Lidl’s door, there was always the option of reviewing the licence at a later stage.