Tesco granted licence to sell alcohol 24 hours a day Mondays to Saturdays at Bishop's Park store in Bishop's Stortford
Tesco has been ordered to be a good neighbour after East Herts Council granted the supermarket permission to sell alcohol around the clock for six days a week at its largest Bishop's Stortford store.
Members of the council's licensing sub-committee heard that residents have complained about anti-social behaviour in and around the Bishop's Park branch in the past and feared louts and littering would increase as a result.
One householder told the councillors: "I strongly object to Tesco's Bishop's Park extending their licensing hours. We have been down this road before, as it encouraged anti-social behaviour through the estate, with groups of youths walking to Tesco all hours of the night. This resulted in plant pots being broken, wing mirrors being ripped off of cars, eggs being thrown at properties and general noise."
Those concerns were echoed at the hearing on Wednesday (April 7) by EHC Bishop's Stortford members Cllrs Tim Page and Norma Symonds.
However, Hardish Purewal, for Tesco, told the sub-committee that the licence change did not mean the store would automatically extend its opening hours. "We are not 24 hours and there are no plans to go 24 hours, but we may do over Christmas and other busy trading times," she said.
The store opens from 6am to midnight six days a week, Mondays to Saturdays, and from 10am to 4pm on Sundays – and has a licence to sell alcohol for more hours than it currently trades: from 6am on Monday to midnight on Friday, 6am-midnight on Saturdays and 10am to 6pm on Sundays.
Ms Purewal said that it was routine for Tesco Extra stores – the chain's largest outlets – like Bishop's Park to have 24-hour licences.
She said the change was being driven by customers: "There are times we are open and not selling alcohol and they have been questioning why."
In the past, at peak times such as Christmas and Easter, the store has applied for a temporary licence extension to match longer opening hours.
Ms Purewal said the Covid-19 crisis was also a factor: "We want people to come in and do all their shopping in one go."
Cllr Page said that a 24-hour licence was "over the top" and accused Tesco of being "dismissive" about the rubbish and broken glass left around Burleigh Avenue and Hadham Road. He said round-the-clock trading should be confined to the town centre, not shops in residential areas.
"I'm interested in balancing the benefit to Tesco and the benefit to residents living around Tesco, and I do not find their [Tesco's] argument convincing," he said.
Ms Purewal said Tesco was committed to working with the community and would ban any troublemakers identified. She pointed out that Hertfordshire Constabulary had not objected to the licence extension, despite Cllr Symonds' assertion that Tesco was the main source of crime in Bishop's Park.
After a lengthy discussion in private, the sub-committee chairwoman Cllr Rosemary Bolton revealed members' decision that a 24-hour licence would be granted from 12am on Mondays to midnight on Saturdays – but the 10am-6pm limit on Sunday would remain.
In addition, she said the store should liaise with residents to address their concerns and continue to ensure the barriers to the store car park must remain closed when the shop is shut to stop nuisance drivers accessing the area.