Alcohol on sale in Bournville for first time in 120 years

Mr Sharma in his shop.
Mr Sharma in his shop.

Booze is on sale in the 'dry' Birmingham suburb of Bournville for the first time in 120 years - and local residents are up in arms.

Kamal Sharma, who runs Mary Vale News, has been given a licence to sell alcohol, and says the decision could save his business.

But the move has been described as 'catastrophic' by local councillor Rob Sealey, who is predicting a rise in antisocial behaviour.

More than 400 people had signed a petition in favour of givng Mr Sharma the licence - along with 230 objections.
The reason for the controversy lies in the origins of Bournville, which was built at the end of the 19th century by George Cadbury, to house workers at his nearby chocolate factory.

As a devout Quaker, he disapproved of alcohol, and decreed that there should be no pubs or off-licences on the estate. That has remained the case ever since, with campaigners successfully seeing off the threat of alcohol sales at a Tesco Express store eight years ago.

In this case, while Bournville Village Trust is the landlord of the property, Mary Vale News actually falls just outside the estate - which, the Trust says proudly, remains dry.

As a result, Mr Sharma was granted the licence.

"While people opposing his application raised concerns about anti-social behaviour, crime and disorder, and the impact licensing a convenience store to sell alcohol would have on Bournville village's 'unique character', no objections were lodged by Bournville Village Trust (BVT) as landlords (as the premises is located outside BVT's boundary) or by West Midlands Police," said councillor Lynda Clinton, chair of the licensing sub-committee.

"Local residents who attended today's meeting were strongly in favour of the application being approved."

She imposed two conditions: that Mr Sharma put up signs forbidding customers from drinking outside, and that he install CCTV.

Mr Sharma tells the Birmingham Mail he is delighted by the decision.

"If it had been turned down I would have seriously looked at closing the business down. I am doing all I can to save my business and selling alcohol may just do that," he says.

"I have suffered since the Bournville plant was sold off in 2010. This will save my business."

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