It is difficult to see the application by Sainsbury's for a 24-hour alcohol licence at its Brindleyplace store as anything other than a hostile challenge to the recent successes enjoyed by businesses, the police and Birmingham City Council in reducing incidents of drunkenness in Broad Street.
As Sainsbury's must be only too well aware, the store lies in an area declared a Cumulative Impact Zone under the Licensing Act 2003 - severely restricting new licensed premises and off-licences. A presumption against new venues or extended hours is in place and applicants must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the drinks licence they require will not lead to an increase in crime and disorder.
The justification for this is very simple. Broad Street's record of yobbish behaviour and petty violence was threatening real harm to the reputation of Birmingham as a business-conference city and of Brindleyplace as a major leisure destination.
Quite how Sainsbury's will be able to show its proposal will not invite crime and disorder, since the store proposes to sell drink in the early hours of the morning when Broad Street's clubs are turning out, it is impossible to say. Neither can the firm reasonably say it is proposing to offer a much-needed service to people living at Brindleyplace, since the store is already permitted to sell alcohol until 11.30pm.
On the face of it, the only trade after midnight is likely to be from Broad Street revellers who, experience would suggest, are likely to have had more than enough to drink by then. Any store selling alcohol at that time is bound to find itself targeted by people who, for one reason or another, have been refused entrance to nearby clubs and pubs.
Sainsbury's bid for a 24-hour licence is a thoroughly bad idea and should be rejected by the council.