AN OFF-LICENCE has had its bid to serve alcohol until 2am blocked over fears it could increase the chance of revellers “pre-loading” before a night out.

Bournemouth council’s licensing board also asserted that allowing Central Off-Licence – based on Exeter Road in the town centre – to extend its hours would lead to more street drinking.

The store is currently allowed to sell alcohol until 11pm six days a week and until 10.30pm on Sunday – but had sought a new licence permitting alcohol sales until 2am on Fridays and Saturdays and 1am for the remainder of the week.

Dorset Police made representations opposing the plan during a May council meeting by citing cumulative impact licensing policy, which calls for a presumption to refuse new applications in areas with high crime and anti-social behaviour levels.

Presenting the borough's decision, licensing board chairman Cllr Andrew Morgan agreed with the force and described the shop’s location as “very much at the heart of the cumulative impact area”.

“On balance we have concluded that by granting the additional hours this will have an adverse impact on this sensitive part of the town centre and will indeed undermine the licensing objectives,” said Cllr Morgan.

“We perceive a risk that people will buy alcohol late at night, perhaps drink it in the gardens or sit on the walls of the hotels and cause nuisance and disorder.

“It may also indeed lead to greater pre-loading.”

Pre-loading refers to the practice of drinking alcohol prior to attending nightclubs and pubs.

Cllr Morgan said allowing the licence may also lead to an increase in proxy sales.

“We are thinking of overseas students who do indeed like to drink in the gardens during the summer. This is another outlet for them to get alcohol late at night,” Cllr Morgan added.

The decision to refuse the application came despite the shop’s solicitor, Philip Day of Laceys, arguing that the CCTV system had been improved, a doorman would be hired and a challenge 25 policy implemented.

Mr Day also pointed to the experience of owner Sadik Goktas, who he said has become used to dealing with drunk customers during eight years of running the off-licence.