Police oppose garage 24-hour booze licence

Work is under way at Churchtown on the  retail base, a new garage, Marks and Spencers and Costa Coffee
Work is under way at Churchtown on the retail base, a new garage, Marks and Spencers and Costa Coffee

A bid by the operators of the new upmarket retail park near Garstang to open with a round-the-clock booze sales licence has been opposed by police and community leaders.

They fear if the new ‘Garstang SF Connect’ base on the A6, Churchtown, is allowed open its doors as a 24/7 off-licence, problems - including drunken behaviour - will escalate.

Police have spelled out their opposition to the licence in a report to tonight’s (Wednesday) meeting of Wyre Council’s licensing committee - at which representatives of site owners BP Oil UK will defend their application and reveal how they will operate security at the petrol station, Marks and Spencer outlet and coffee shop once the redevelopment is complete.

The project, on the site of the former BP petrol station opposite Kirkland Memorial Hall, gained planning permission earlier this year, despite opposition.

But controversy has been reignited with police issuing a candid report about drink and drug-fuelled youth problems to back up their concerns.

Police licensing officer Andrew Taylor says the sale of alcohol in Garstang stores, as well as the proximity of community halls holding various events and nearby pubs and takeaways makes them “hot-spots” for gangs of youths who cause a lot of anti-social behaviour and disorder while under the influence of alcohol.

His report says under-age youngsters find drinking easy because their older friends buy alcohol for them.

PC Taylor revealed there were 123 logs of nuisance-related issues in Garstang between January 1 and October 11, 2016, 57 of them related to youths under the influence of alcohol causing anti-social behaviour and disorder.

He cited examples of a large group of “very drunk” youngsters fighting in Garstang and a “very drunk” 14-year-old boy being found by police.

He also described Kirkland Memorial hall car park as having been left littered with "used condoms, broken bottles, cannabis snap bags and a general mess behind for locals to clear up."

Kirkland Parish Council has also objected, saying the council is against the sale of booze beyond 11pm.

In its report to tonight’s committee, BP says it will install a CCTV system covering the entrance and alcohol display areas, with the positioning of the cameras to be agreed with the police.

BP says the premises "will at all times maintain adequate levels of staff." There would also be an "adequate" number of waste bins. An age verification policy would be in force.