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Heroin dealer claims by group bidding to derail Tesco licence bid

CLAIMS of heroin dealing were made by campaigners bidding to stop a Tesco outlet in a parade of shops getting a licence to sell alcohol.

Members of the Ringwood Recovery Group (RRG) alleged granting a drinks licence to the Tesco Express outlet at Butlers Lane in Poulner could “exacerbate” existing anti-social behaviour problems.

"There is a local heroin dealer and people go to that area to pick up their heroin," Kevin Jones, from the RRG, told New Forest District Council’s licensing sub-committee, which will decide the application.

The Tesco Express at Poulner (46834265)
The Tesco Express at Poulner (46834265)

"There was also an attack in Tesco in 2017/18 and two individuals were placed in prison as a result of that.

"Those two individuals who attacked the Tesco manager are no longer with us. Their addiction overwhelmed them and alcohol was a key and core element within that."

Tesco Stores Ltd appeared before district councillors seeking a licence to sell alcohol at the store seven days a week from 6am to midnight.

Jeremy Bark, Tesco’s lawyer, vociferously denied it had any knowledge of such problems and assured it did not condone any type of "criminality".

He explained Tesco made the application after requests by local customers and a nationwide review of its Express stores.

As reported by the A&T, objectors claimed the parade of shops had covenants attached to protect the outlets, boost diversity and stop price wars. They prevented Tesco from selling alcohol, for example, while the Wine Box can sell booze but not other items stocked by its neighbour, they claimed.

Mr Bark told the licensing committee the move would "not spark a price war" since prices were set by Tesco regionally.

He stressed it was a responsible operator with a host of measures to stop problems occurring, such as the Think 25 ID policy, CCTV and trained staff.

He highlighted there had been no objections from Hampshire police or other local authorities, and questioned how people could be happy the Wine Box sold alcohol nearby yet have a problem with Tesco doing it. He insisted it was a "well thought-out application".

NFDC’s sub-licensing committee retired to consider its decision, which will be announced later.

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