Flower power makes life a bit less rosy for traditional shops
Published:  23 February, 2007

Concern mounts over the number of retailers now allowed to sell alcohol

Florists, garden centres and even tile shops are giving drinks shops a run for their money as local authorities face a increase in licence applications .

Across the country, a wide variety of shops are muscling in on the territory of traditional off-licences. In Brighton, two florists have been granted permission to display alcohol alongside flowers, and Wyevale Garden Centre on Warren Road has applied for a licence to sell drink between 9am and 8pm.

A tile shop in Brighton is selling alcohol after turning half its premises into a convenience Store. The licence was granted despite the licensing panel 's concern that "tiles might be used as weapons" because CCTV cameras did not cover the part of the shop where they are sold.

In Blackburn a shop selling flowers and another selling gifts have been given permission to sell wine and other alcoholic drinks, and in Cheshire former royal butler Paul Burrell can sell alcoholic drinks in his florist and gift shop. Paul Burrell Flowers in Fardon was granted the licence by Chester City Council despite objections from residents concerned about the existing number of off-licences .

Local authorities across the country have also objected to the increasing number of shops applying for licences to sell alcohol. Brighton's police and council are currently considering plans to lobby the government to introduce changes to legislation so a cap can be brought it in to stem the number of drinks shops, and Sheffield Citry Council has given its support to such demands. "We would support a request for a cap on these types of premises that can be imposed voluntary by licensing authorities, should there be a need to do so," a spokeswoman from the council said.

But the WSTA has objected to the idea of local authorities being allowed to limit the number of off-trade premises. Chief executive Jeremy Beadles said: "This will be, and should be, determined by the market. The guidance to the Licensing Act states that the need for licensed premises in an area concerns commercial demand and that it is not a matter for licensing authorities."

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Richard Hemming MW: beware inverse snobbery

Few things can bring communal pleasure so intimately as wine. Apart from a hot tub, perhaps. Sport can trigger mass jubilation, film gives us shared empathy, but wine has a nigh-unique ability to bestow conviviality among us through a shared bottle ľ which makes it especially galling that we spend so much time divided over it.

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