A PERTHSHIRE shopkeeper has been given the green light to open his fifth store in the region despite the concerns of Comrie residents.
Perth and Kinross Council’s licensing board approved the bid from Mohammed Arif Minhas for an off-licence on the village’s Drummond Street after hearing from three objectors in person and reading the complaints of several more.
Appearing before councillors, Doctor Munro, Neil Aitken and John Beattie highlighted a number of problems surrounding the application.
Dr Munro explained Comrie residents were “concerned” due to the alcohol consumption of youngsters in the village which caused police to be called to rowdy behaviour and acts of vandalism in the past.
He also pointed out that he felt there was an over provision of off-licenses in the village.
He said: “Our concerns are already there and anything increasing alcohol sales will only add fuel to the fire.”
Similarly, Mr Aitken admitted the past 12 months had seen a decline in anti-social behaviour in the village, but declared that worried locals fear the trouble could flare-up again.
“It has improved but the concern persists in the village because people remember the problems.
“In my opinion, there is already a large number of premises in Comrie already selling alcohol and I thereby question the need for another one.”
Informed that Mr Minhas, who owns stores in Perth, Pitlochry and Aberfeldy, has a long-established successful relationship with the board, Mr Aitken remained defiant.
He continued: “I’m not talking about Mr Minhas, I’ve never met him.
“I’m talking about the granting of another off-licence. Do we really need another one?
“In my opinion, no. And that has nothing to do with who the license holder is.”
Echoing the comments of his counterparts, Mr Beattie added: “I feel that there is a sufficient number of shops for people to buy alcohol.
“I would be most disappointed if the licensing board added to the problem.”
Defending his client’s application, solicitor Paul Trodden, of McCash and Hunter, addressed the “tsunami of objections” and emphasised Mr Minhas’ exemplary record to date whilst indicating Tayside Police had no concerns regarding the premises.
The board was told the shopkeeper would prevent the supply of alcohol to underage people through the installation of state-of-the-art CCTV, a tough challenge 25 policy and the use of a detailed incident book.
Mr Trodden also reassured the board that anyone lurking outside the store would be moved on by staff members.
He said: “Granting this application will not exacerbate a problem which may or may not be occurring at the moment.
“There is also no causal link between alcohol availability and alcohol abuse.
“Mr Minhas runs a very good and law-abiding operation.”
Convenor Councillor Bob Band, seconded by Councillor Jack Coburn, with the unanimous support of board members, passed the application.
It allows the store to open between 10am and 10pm but restricts the sale of caffeine-based alcohol or tonic wine. A clause also dictates that both internal and external CCTV cameras should be installed.