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Shopkeepers at odds over plan for new off-licence in village

The Post Office and (circled) the new shop at 20 The Green in Abertysswg (Pic: Google)

A SHOPKEEPER’S plan for a new convenience store in a village has ignited a row with another local trader.

Kajanthan Nagaratnam has applied to sell alcohol when he opens his new shop on the site of a former fish and chip shop in Abertysswg.

Another shopkeeper, Mr Bajwa, who runs the local post office from his own store just over 100 metres away, has claimed the new off-licence will be “detrimental” for children who use a playground between the two shops.

But at a Caerphilly Council licensing committee meeting on Monday March 25, members heard Mr Bajwa already sells alcohol from his own store and had not noticed any resulting antisocial behaviour in the playground.

In written submissions to the committee, Mr Bajwa also said there was “not enough trade for two shops… in the village as there is no passing trade”.

He claimed it was “a shock to the community” when the chip shop at 20 The Green closed down and Mr Nagaratnam began to convert it into a convenience store.

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But Todd Rawson, a solicitor for the council, said the licensing committee “is not a competition watchdog” and could not approve or reject an application based on those grounds.

Similarly, the council decided a petition apparently submitted by Mr Bajwa, calling on the premises to remain as a takeaway, was not “relevant” to the committee’s remit.

During the meeting, a Mr Rajesh – acting as an agent for Mr Nagaratnam – said the applicant had worked for several years in the trade and wanted to set up a shop for his family’s “livelihood”.

He said the police and council had made several recommendations for improving security and preventing underage sales at the new shop, which Mr Nagaratnam had accepted “without any hesitation”.

The new business would be “purely dependent” on the community, and “we’re not going to do anything which harms residents or the licensing objectives”, he added.

Mr Rajesh also said locals had told the applicant they wanted more consumer choice in the village.

Police constable Jon Taylor told the meeting Gwent Police’s licensing team had no objections to the agreed conditions proposed for Mr Nagaratnam’s business.

The “robust” agreements would “protect residents”, he said, adding that there was “no suggestion” a new off-licence would cause any problems with antisocial behaviour.

Speaking at the meeting, Mr Bajwa said the application “looks like it’s already a done deal”.

Mr Rawson challenged his written comments, however, which he said alleged “people will be buying alcohol and going into the park”.

“Does that happen at the moment at your store?” he asked.

Mr Bajwa told the meeting he normally shuts his shop at 8.30pm, and his customers who buy alcohol then “go to their homes”.

The committee will publish its decision within five working days.

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