A NEIGHBOURHOOD shop in Bishop Auckland has been granted permission to sell alcohol.

The business, in Cockton Hill Road, currently operates as Etheringtons newsagents but is expected to be converted to a mini supermarket following the decision of licensing bosses at Durham County Council.

A licence had originally been sought for booze sales from the premises between 5am and 11pm seven days a week, but was later reduced to 8am to 11pm.

And following a hearing of the council’s Statutory Licensing Sub-Committee on Friday, July 31, panel members agreed to approve the application, but only after curtailing the hours further, to between 8am and 10pm.

The new Premier Store will still be allowed to open for other purchases from 5am.

The applicant, named in paperwork as Sivaguru Ravichandran, who is in the process of buying the shop from current owner and newsagent Graham Sheldon, told the committee he has held premises licences for nine years and already runs shops in Crook and Tow Law.

He said he plans to invest about £350,000 in the new venture, which will be a mini supermarket selling alcohol, groceries and newspapers and will create about eight jobs.

Last week’s meeting, which was held by video link and broadcast via YouTube, heard criticisms of the plans from families living nearby.

They were concerned about the potential for litter and vandalism linked to the store’s alcohol sales.

They also questioned the necessity for such a licence, given the number of other nearby businesses already selling alcohol, including a 24-hour petrol station over the road.

One objector, named as Mr D Ripley, told the committee: “We live right next door to this shop.

"The opening hours, combined with the licensing, I think will make it a nightmare for us.

“It seems as though there’s been no research into [anti-social behaviour] or what has happened to the shop in Beaumont Street, with kids gathering outside late at night and damage being done to the shop.

“We already suffer from litter being dropped in our front yard because there’s no bins and I think that will get worse.”

Whilst the concerns were accepted by Mr Ravichandran, he also promised that if alerted to any issues he would ‘sort them out’.

He said: “I live in Crook, above my shop which opens until 10pm.

“I can understand why there are fears about disturbance, but I guarantee if there are any problems they should let me know and I will sort them out.

Following deliberations the panel agree to approve the application, subject to additional conditions including the installation of CCTV, provision of litter bins outside the shop and anyone causing a ‘nuisance’ outside must be requested to move on .