Growing fears over the amount of street drinking have scuppered a bid to open a new off licence in the centre of Cardiff.
The Nisa chain wanted to sell alcohol from 10am to 9pm every day at a new store on St Mary Street, claiming the city centre’s growing population needed more choice.
The street – which is within the city centre saturation zone – is a “hotspot for violent crime” according to South Wales Police.
PC Tony Bowley, from the police licensing unit, said problems with street drinking were increasing in the area and a new off licence would contribute to the issue.
He said: “The temporary relocation of the Huggard Centre to Custom House has intensified the problems we’re seeing with people drinking on the streets and causing trouble.
“We know St Mary Street and the surrounding area is a hotspot for violent crime and our figures show that.”
PC Bowley presented figures which showed there had been 474 incidents on St Mary Street in the last 12 months, with the number of cases of bodily harm on the rise.
A policeman in charge of patrolling the city centre, PC Geraint White, said they faced a daily battle to stop violent incidents taking place.
He said: “From first thing in the morning we are having to confiscated alcohol from people. I see people fighting and they like to congregate in the Central Square area.
“This is one of the gateways to the city and we don’t want people being intimidated as soon as they arrive.”
Nicholas Lang, who was looking to open the store, said it would not open if it didn’t get a licence.
He said: “It’ll be another empty shop front on St Mary Street. We need this licence to trade.
“The city centre population, although small, is growing and we want to offer a store to those people who live in apartments such as St David’s.”
Nisa area manager Ashley Griffiths explained to the licensing sub committee how his store would limit the sale of alcohol.
He said: “We would operate a Challenge 25 policy which pops up on the till. We also install web cams in the tills, which act like a panic button.
“If there’s an incident the operator can record two minutes of footage and this can help the police with their enquiries.”
Councillor Bill Kelloway, chairing the sub committee, said the council could not be satisfied that another off licence would not lead to more crime and disorder in the area.
‘Initial discussions’ begin on reviewing the city’s saturation zone
A review of Cardiff’s saturation zones is due to take place over the summer, the council’s licensing chief confirmed yesterday.
Coun Ed Bridges said he had met with licensing officers from South Wales Police to review evidence on whether the policy was working.
The saturation zones – on St Mary Street and City Road – currently mean an automatic objection is issued to any new premises wanting to sell alcohol in those locations.
The policy was put in place due to rising crime and disorder levels in both locations.
Coun Bridges said: “It was an initial discussion and we will be reviewing whether the policy needs to be amended in the coming months.”
Calls for the saturation zone to be extended to Greyfriars Road – an area growing in popularity with revellers could be on the cards.
Coun Bridges said: “It is an area we were looking at, and as with any policy it would need to be supported by strong evidence and crime figures.”
Councillor Bridges is due to meet with licensing officers next month to continue talks on reforming the policy.
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