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Belvin’s liquor licence quashed

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A grocery store has had its liquor licence revoked after residents complained that the sale of alcohol had prompted antisocial behaviour, traffic disruption and increased littering.

The owner of Belvin's Variety was also chastised by the Liquor Licensing Authority for illegally selling miniature bottles of spirits to customers at both its Glebe Road and Happy Valley stores.

George Swan's application to renew The Glebe Road store's licence was refused, while an application to renew the liquor licence for the Happy Valley Road store was allowed, but with a string of conditions attached.

LLA chairman Juan Wolffe emphasised in his ruling that grocery stores were not permitted to sell miniatures.

Referring to The Glebe Road premises, Mr Wolffe added: “This [selling miniatures] is of immense concern to the LLA because when the LLA carried out a site visit on October 2015 it brought to Mr Swan's attention that, as The Glebe Road store is a grocery store, he should not be selling miniatures.

“Mr Swan's reasoning for selling miniatures, which is just as egregious as the act itself, is that he attended other grocery stores and saw that they were selling miniatures and so he decided to continue to do so.

“Not only is this reprehensible conduct by Mr Swan a blatant disregard for the directions of the LLA, but it is a contravention of the Act, which clearly states that a grocery store should not sell miniatures.”

The Glebe Road store was first granted a liquor licence in November 2015 despite objections from local MP Walter Roban, churches and residents who claimed it would have a negative impact on the community as well as traffic flow.

At the beginning of this year one resident, who lived directly across from the store, catalogued a list of adverse affects from granting the store a liquor licence.

Mr Wolffe said: “He complained of trash in his yard, beer bottles in his trash can, people parking in front of his driveway, increased traffic flow, fights and acts of violence outside the doorway including the brandishing of knife and machete, drunk people sitting on walls outside his home, noise and profane language.

“He claimed The Glebe Road Belvins was essentially a liquor store masquerading as a grocery store.”

At a hearing before the LLA last month, Mr Swan said he had banned numerous people from the store and placed three cameras outside.

Mr Wolffe concluded the initial fears about the granting of the licence had been brought to realisation.

He added: “We are satisfied that the objections raised show that as a direct result of intoxicating liquor being sold from the Glebe Road store that there has been undue noise, disruption to traffic flow, the accumulation of trash and disturbances attributable to alcohol use.

“We seriously question whether the Glebe Road store is operating primarily as a grocery store.

“The fact that Mr Swan would state that it would not be financially viable for him to not sell single bottles of intoxicating alcohol is indicative of the conclusion that the selling of intoxicating liquor is crucial to the viability of the store. This should not be the case for grocery stores.”

Meanwhile, despite objections from some local residents the LLA decided to renew the Happy Valley Road store's licence on condition no intoxicating liquor was sold before midday and no single beers or miniatures were sold.

Some residents had complained of antisocial behaviour around the shop and large numbers congregating nearby “displaying intimidating behaviour, urinating in public and using profane language”.

A statement from one concerned neighbour revealed a man had a knife pulled on him and that “this type of violent activity has made residents afraid to speak out for fear of retaliation.”

Mr Swan maintained that he had tried to address the problems and had spent $20,000 on interior cameras.

“We have a great deal of sympathy for the plight of the [local residents] and we are satisfied in large part their objections are sustainable,” Mr Wolffe said.

“We are also satisfied that the unruly conduct of those who congregate near the store is attributable to the misuse of alcohol which is purchased by them from the Happy Valley store.

“However, we are reluctant to place all the blame at the feet of Mr Swan or the store employees. From what we understand, the property on which these persons congregate is Government property and despite pleas from Mr Swan and the residents, Government officials have for some reason been unable or reluctant to deal with the problem.

“Therefore this may be a problem which is beyond the control of Mr Swan.

“However, we are of the view that Mr Swan can and should go further in attempting to address the problem.

“He must actively place restrictions as to the sale of intoxicating alcohol at the Happy Valley store, even if it may negatively affect his financial bottom line.”

Belvin's Variety Store on The Glebe Road, where the liquor licence has been revoked (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Belvin's Variety Store on Happy Valley Road (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

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Published June 16, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated June 16, 2016 at 2:52 pm)

Belvin’s liquor licence quashed

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