ALCESTER councillors have spoken out after a decision by the Stratford District Council Licensing Panel to allow an off-licence to open in Hopkins Precinct.

The Super Wines and Spirits off-licence, which is part of a chain in the West Midlands, was strongly opposed by councillors concerned that it would cause a rise in the amount of anti-social behaviour in the area.

Police and members of the public also voiced concerns about opening a second off-licence in the shopping area, which already has a Tesco Express selling alcohol.

Mike Gittus, county councillor for Alcester, said: “This is an extraordinary decision for the Licensing Panel to make. Much was made of the reduction of public nuisance in the vicinity of the application over the last two years. What the panel members clearly failed to understand, was that this reduction came about as a direct result of our police, town youth club and voluntary workers.

“In my past professional opinion, as a time served uniformed police officer, this consent to a booze supermarket in this location will lead to an increase in anti social behaviour.”

Alcester police attend regular incidents of anti-social behaviour at Hopkins Precinct as one resident highlighted in a letter to the panel.

She said: “We are constantly having trouble with youths in the area. On Tuesday, February 4 we had a group of girls in their school uniforms. They were drunk. One fell outside the Alcester Fish Bar landing on her face. Another got a knife out and went into Tesco and threatened the staff. The police had to attend the situation.”

The decision was made by the Licensing Panel to grant permission for the off-licence at 4-5 Hopkins Precinct to sell alcohol for consumption off the premises every day from 8am to 11pm.

District councillor Eric Payne, said: “I am dismayed by this decision and the impact that it will likely have on the vulnerable elderly living in the immediate area. The impact on their daily lives will be considerable.”

District councillor Sue Adams added: “I often chair these meetings and I understand the issues involved. It is very unusual for the police to object to an application and I would have thought that this itself should have given weight to its rejection.”