Tesco has opened an alcohol-free convenience store in Newcastle upon Tyne after the city’s licensing boss launched a clampdown on off-licences in the area.

Licensing officer Stephen Savage said Newcastle is saturated with off-licences and that the authority had decided to “take a stand” against the city’s “drink problem”.

The council plan involves capping the number of drinks retailers, forcing some stores to limit the space in which alcohol in sold and defying central government by imposing minimum unit pricing on retailers that supply street drinkers.

Tesco has struggled to gain an off-sales licence for a new Express store on Grainger Street in the city centre, having seen its application to sell BWS rejected by the authority.

Britain’s largest retailer has put in another request for a licence but has decided to open the store anyway while it awaits the verdict, due on February 23.

Tesco said: “We’re delighted to be opening a great new store on Grainger Street that’s convenient for the community. Our Express store will provide everything needed for a small shop, from a loaf of bread to a pint of milk, though as the store does not have an alcohol licence we respect our obligation not to sell these items.

“However, customers can still find a great range of goods to choose from while we review our options on the sale of alcohol.”