High St booze licence granted despite concern

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The Polish food shop on High Street has been granted a drinks licence, despite neighbour objections and opposition from a local councillor.

And local police were also concerned that giving an off-sales permit to Pokusa would represent “overprovision” of licensed premises in that area.

But Scottish Borders Licensing Board agreed on Friday to the request from businesswoman Olga Mazurczak who, with husband Szymon, runs a similar retail outlet in Berwick.

She said she intended selling a range of specialist beers, vodkas and liqueurs from Poland, Russia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic to satisfy a demand from people of East European origin as well as the general public.

There were letters of objection from two neighbours of the shop at 37 High Street, one of whom felt the alcohol licence would exacerbate existing problems. “It will attract trouble around our doorway which is used as a smoking area and toilet at nights and weekends,” wrote Andrew Rae, who also claimed the shop was involved in loading and unloading in the early hours of the morning.

Mrs Mazurczak said that, due to a misunderstanding, a delivery had been taken in the middle of the night over Easter, but this was a “one-off”.

Police Inspector Tony Hodges conceded the shop was well run but asked the board to consider that there were already 34 licensed premises in Hawick’s central area – the second highest in terms of density in the Borders – and four off-sales in High Street alone.

But Gala Councillor Bill Herd was supportive of the application.

“Our town centres are dying through lack of footfall and this will bring people onto the High Street.

“The volume of sales will be miniscule compared to the big supermarkets.”

But Hawick councillor David Paterson opposed the bid, siding with the objectors, none of whom appeared at the board meeting to substantiate their claims. He failed to receive a seconder and his dissent was noted.

And this week, Mr Paterson added: “I opposed this licence. I share the concerns of those who objected.”