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Off licences cap could help Castleford’s street drinking problems

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A Castleford ward councillor has called for a cap on the number of off-licences in the town centre in a bid to combat street drinking.

Tony Wallis has suggested that a limit on small shops could help to tackle the area’s problems  with anti-social behaviour and disorder.

Police say that a ban on street drinking in the town centre, which was introduced last year, is having an impact with fewer incidents reported.

But they have joined council officers in objecting to plans for a new off licence on Albion Street on the grounds it could make the problem worse.

Coun Wallis said: “From residents’ point of view, the public spaces protection order (PSPO) has made a big difference. It’s not an alarming situation now, but it’s still something we have to be vigilant about.

“I think a lot of residents were feeling intimidated. Even if the behaviour  wasn’t meant to be intimidating, it was making people feel uncomfortable when they came into the town centre.  

“From residents’ point of view it would be handy to restrict the number of off licences. I think that’s something that needs to be looked at. There should be more balance which takes account of residents’ views.

“At the moment, licensing and planning officers can only judge each case on its own merits.”

The application was submitted by Safar Hussain, who wants permission to set up an Eastern European mini market on the site of a former Indian takeaway. But unless councillors ignore the advice of licensing officers and the police, his plans will be rejected on Monday.

A report by Wakefield Council’s licensing team says: “There are currently 13 premises in the Castleford town centre that have the facility to sell alcohol by way of off sales, included in this figure there are four similar Eastern European styled shops that fall within the vicinity of the proposed application.

“There are also two shops of a similar description that don’t have a facility to sell alcohol, but sell similar Eastern European produce, again within the close vicinity of the proposed application. This brings the question of does Castleford need a further off licence in such a concentrated area of similar premises whether licensed or not to sell alcohol.”