Sainsbury's granted alcohol licence for new village store in Wrenthorpe by Wakefield Council

Sainsbury's have been granted an alcohol licence for a potential new village store, despite claims the move has been "driven by greed, not need."

Wednesday, 6th October 2021, 5:41 pm

The supermarket chain is now set to move into an old furniture store in Wrenthorpe.

Planning permission was not needed for the venture, because Sainsbury's are moving into a premises that was already a shop.

But local people fought hard against its application for a booze licence, in the belief it may put the business off moving to the area, or at least prevent it from selling alcohol.

Local people had objected to the application on various grounds.

Campaigners and ward councillors said Sainsbury's proposal risked putting other nearby shops out of business, increasing anti-social behaviour and encouraging underage drinking.

The supermarket's lawyers described some of the objectors' claims as "offensive and a bit dramatic" at a licensing hearing on Wednesday.

They insisted Sainsbury's would be a responsible member of the community and that the move could actually help other village businesses by keeping footfall in the village.

But Labour councillor for Wrenthorpe and Outwood West, Charlie Keith, told the hearing: "If Sainsbury's can't find a more suitable outlet to maintain their market share than this one, then God help us.

The store was previously a furniture shop known as Declans, on Bradford Road.

"This is being driven by greed and not need, accountancy and not necessity."

Coun Keith said the junction where the premises is located was already hazardous, and that Sainsbury's move there would pose a serious risk of an accident.

He claimed: "If someone gets injured, or dies, the people of Wrenthorpe will blame the council for standing by and allowing this to happen here today.

"And they will also blame the name on the side of the truck, and that will be Sainsbury's."

Labour councillor Charlie Keith said the plans were driven by "accountancy and not necessity."

Local Conservative councillor Nic Stansby said she had "no faith" in the supermarket's pledge to operate a Challenge 25 policy, saying: "My son bought alcohol at one of your stores and he's not even 18."

She added: "I know this isn't a planning or a licensing issue, but during lockdown the stores in Wrenthorpe have been amazing.

"They've been lifesavers for people in the village.

"They did food deliveries to vulnerable people when the supermarkets couldn't. If people didn't have cash, they said, 'Pay us later'.

Conservative councillor Nic Stansby claimed proud local shops could close down as a result of the move.

"If we grant the licence and you (Sainsbury's) move in, then we could lose these local stores."

The supermarket's solicitor, Robert Botkai, had earlier told the hearing that some of the claims made by people in the village were not relevant to the case as they were not licensing matters.

He also stressed that Sainsbury's could still move into the premises, with or without an alcohol licence.

Speaking before Councillors Keith and Stansby, Mr Botkai said: "Some of the comments are somewhat offensive and a bit dramatic.

"We're not a 'get rich quick' scheme. We're a national retailer.

"We'd like to be part of this community and we very much hope that residents will enjoy the enhanced shopping experience a Sainsbury's in the town would offer.

"The residents say this is a quiet, residential area. We're not proposing to change that."

Mr Botkai said another nearby Sainsbury's had received huge opposition to opening several years ago, to the extent that effigies of the organisation's then chief executive were hung up.

He added: "I'm pleased to say that's now one of the most successful Sainsbury's in the country.

"We need to be given a chance. If people don't want to shop there, they can vote with their feet. No-one's forcing them to shop there."

The committee of three councillors voted in favour of the application, saying that though they were "mindful" of the concerns raised, the applicant had successfully "addressed" the questions around licensing issues.

Local Democracy Reporting Service