Shop refused licence over ‘mountain’ of objection

Willowbrae Convenience store. Picture: Cate Gillon
Willowbrae Convenience store. Picture: Cate Gillon
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A “mountain” of objections against plans by a local store to sell alcohol has led to the refusal of its licence, after residents raised fears it could fuel anti-social behaviour.

More than 60 objections were made against the first-time application by Willowbrae Convenience Store at 
Willowbrae Road. Residents claimed making booze more readily available could worsen crime in the Piershill area, described as being dogged by antisocial youth behaviour.

At a meeting of Edinburgh’s licensing committee, police said there were 1343 crimes recorded across the beat area in the last year – with 852 falling into the category of antisocial behaviour – and described Piershill as an antisocial crime hotspot.

Councillor Joan Griffiths, representing residents who had objected, said: “There are
already 14 retail outlets licensed to sell alcohol in this small
corner of the ward, and we really do not need another one.”

In April 2011, it was announced security cameras were to be installed in Piershill following an attack on 12-year-old girl Alisha Khan and antisocial behaviour involving youths.

In November, the News reported a hate campaign against Asian chip shop owner Neel Sharma, proprietor of the Daba takeaway, who endured racist abuse, vandalism and threats of 
violence. One resident said: “There is a definite problem with antisocial behaviour – the owner of the fish shop closed it down because of the crime. The worrying thing is the small shops are not able to 
control youths gaining access to cheap alcohol.”

Alistair Macdonald, representing applicant Mubasher Mansoor, said: “Our client realises the viability of this business is very much linked to whether or not he can get a licence.

“I haven’t heard any evidence today, nor in terms of any of these letters, as to why the granting a licence for this shop will make it [antisocial behaviour] worse.”

However, Councillor Eric Milligan said: “In the time that I have been convenor of the licensing board I have never seen such a mountain of ­objections.

“If I were Mr Mansoor I would be a little bemused as to what he has done to trigger such a large number of objections. But it would quite wrong for us to disregard all the serious concerns.”

The committee refused the licence on the basis of preventing crime and public nuisance.