Would you like a chicken bum with your Nigerian Guinness? African takeaway in Milton Keynes wins alcohol licence

An African takeaway has been granted a licence to sell alcohol in a Milton Keynes crime hotspot after agreeing to a list of conditions demanded by police.

An African takeaway has been granted a licence to sell alcohol in a Milton Keynes crime hotspot after agreeing to a list of conditions demanded by police.

Mark and Leanne celebrate their licensing success

Mark and Leanne celebrate their licensing success

In agreeing to issuing a licence, committee members praised Mama Africa’s proprietors for their enthusiasm and confidence in running a business in the Netherfield shopping parade which has been plagued by anti-social yobs.

Mama Africa, in Farthing Grove, is run by Leanne Duggan and her fiance, Mark Cole, who have been selling African takeaway snacks – including one that she said was made from ‘chicken bums’ – for about five years.

“We are a family business,” said Leanne at a Licensing Sub Committee meeting at Milton Keynes Council on Monday. “We have expanded and we want to sell a little bit of alcohol.” They would buy in imported beers from Africa, including Nigerian Guinness.

But Thames Valley Police licensing officer Gemma McCormack told the committee that Netherfield is an “area which causes concern for Thames Valley Police as it is the location of a high number of crimes reported to us.”

Of 204 crimes in Netherfield from January 1 to May 31, 40 were in Farthing Grove, at the parade of shops, where there are already three businesses selling alcohol. The crimes include anti-social behaviour, public order and violence.

“Local officers confirm that the area already has issues with anti social street drinking which in our belief contributes quite a bit,” her report added. Neighbourhood police Inspector Andy Pearce said Thames Valley Police had a duty to local residents to insist on a list of conditions.

Police and Mama Africa agreed to all but one of the conditions. The proprietors did not want to be forced to only be able to sell alcohol with food. The sub-committee of three councillors convened to decide the issue.

“I’ve made it quite posh,” said Leanne, who grew up on Netherfield and says she knows who the local troublemakers are. “Street drinking is an issue but we won’t be selling cheap cider. They won’t want to buy our alcohol when the others are selling it cheaper than us.”

She also said she is a trained door supervisor and has been trained in handling people. “I am nice to everyone,” she said. “I say hello and treat people well. I’ve never had any trouble.

“We have loads of CCTV cameras, covering every angle.”

Cllr Mick Legg (Lab, Bletchley West), who was chairing the sub-committee, said: “I was very impressed with your presentation. I have been a councillor since 1996 and I don’t think I’ve seen any other applicants being so positive in this area.”

But he added that the three-strong committee which also included Cllr Amanda Marlow (Cons, Loughton and Shenley) and Cllr Paul Trendall (Lib Dem, Campbell Park & Old Woughton) agreed that Mama Africa would have to sell a meal with their alcohol.

Leanne asked whether this could be supplying a £1.50 snack which she called “chicken bums”, but the committee said it had to be something more substantial, costing £7.50.

Leanne and Mark were happy to accept all the conditions and said they could now concentrate on their wedding, which they plan to confirm very quickly, without grand ceremony.