COUNCILLORS have queued up to oppose supermarket giant Lidl’s bid to sell “cheap alcohol” late at night at its new store under construction in Hythe.
The company wants a drinks licence to match its planned 7am-11pm opening hours when its outlet launches in New Road – which has sparked fears of rowdy behaviour, underage drinking and littering.
The application to New Forest District Council is opposed by the Conservative cabinet member for leisure and wellbeing, Cllr James Binns, as well as Dibden and Hythe councillors Bill Andrews and Dan Poole.
The parish council and six residents have also objected, including Peter Lawson, secretary to the parochial church council of the next door Grade II listed St John the Baptist Church.
The shop was approved in 2017 by NFDC planners on the second attempt with the backing of more than 300 letters of support. It is currently being built over what used to be a public car park.
But now concerns have been raised about the impact on the village centre from cheaper drinks being sold late at night, with Cllr Binns preparing to speak against Lidl at the licensing hearing on 11th December.
Cllr Andrews added: “I consider that these times may contribute to more crime and disorder, potential loss of public safety and increased public nuisance.”
Cllr Poole said: “Waitrose close their store at 8pm. Lidl will, if approved, sell liquor beyond that time and more cheaply. This could well increase anti-social behaviour in the village.”
One objector wrote: “Selling cheap alcohol for up to 16 hours a day cannot be considered to be in the interest of the community.”
However, a committee report pointed out Waitrose could open later if it wanted as its drinks licence actually has the same hours as those requested by Lidl.
Although Lidl had applied for 7am-11pm sales every day, trading law would restrict its overall opening times to six hours on a Sunday, the report said. It also warned health matters could not be considered as reasons for refusal.
The company did not respond to the A&T’s request for comment. But in its submission it said all staff are trained to prevent underage sales by asking for ID for people appearing under 25, and would face disciplinary proceedings for breaking the rules.
It promised management would maintain a good relationship with the police and local authorities, and a comprehensive CCTV system would be installed.
The application will be considered by a licensing sub-committee of councillors Steve Clarke, Steve Davies, and Pat Wyeth at NFDC’s Appletree Court HQ in Lyndhurst.
If refused, Lidl has a right of appeal to the magistrates’ court within 21 days of notification.