Belfast Telegraph

Off-licence plans spark fears of anti-social youths

by Chris McCann

A group of north Belfast residents has gone head-to-head with supermarket giant Tesco, in a bid to save the area from further problems with anti-social behaviour.

Residents in the Mayfield area of Glengormley have taken on the retail heavyweight, which has recently applied to add an off-licence sales outlet to its mini supermarket in the north Belfast development at Hightown.

The vast majority of residents objecting to the plan are doing so as a a result of an already existing problem of anti-social behaviour, which they fear would be worsened by an off-licence in the vicinity.

It is understood that lobbying by residents has led the Newtownabbey District Policing Partnership (DPP) to object to the Tesco application on the proposal of Independent DPP member John Blair.

Mr Blair, who is also a local Alliance Party activist and chairman of the Antrim Line Community Policing Forum, said: “There has been much correspondence from local residents to the District Policing Partnership and local councillors.

“I think all of us who have been contacted fully understand the concerns of local people that this application, at this time, could exacerbate recent problems of anti-social behaviour in the vicinity of the shops at Mayfield.

“Although legislation does not make it easy for the DPP to |object, we are making an effort to support residents in their efforts to protect the area |from further problems.

“The DPP will illustrate these |problems in correspondence |to the court and point out that there are already a number of off-licence premises in the surrounding area.

“I will continue to work with my colleague councillor Tom Campbell on this issue and am happy to discuss the issue with Tescos at anytime.

“I remain hopeful that Tesco, might rethink this application in support of residents.”

A Tesco spokesperson said: “Tesco is a responsible retailer and we have robust rules around the sale of alcohol, operating a strict Think-25 policy. We work closely with the local enforcement authorities and the local community at all our stores and look forward to the outcome of the committee hearing.”

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