Fears over booze sales at WHSmith in Leicester railway station
A plan by WHSmith to sell alcohol at its Leicester railway station branch could lead to booze-fuelled disorder among football fans and street drinkers, police fear.
The retailer has applied for an alcohol sales licence for its shop at the London Road station, but police have called for it to be turned down by city council officials.
The council's licensing committee, which is set discuss the matter next month, has received a letter from police inspector Nigel Rixon, of the force's licensing department, raising concerns about the move.
He wrote: "During the football season, Leicester station is a gateway to many travelling supporters attending matches at Leicester City.
"Police provide a policing operation on these days to ensure the safety of those attending the matches and those visiting the city for business and leisure purposes.
"Much of the operation is conducted to meet travelling fans outside the station buildings and monitor and restrict access to alcohol."
The inspector also said WHSmith falls within a so-called saturation zone where there is an automatic assumption that new licence applications will be rejected because of the high volume of nearby alternative off-licences. He said: "The station and the area suffers from a higher than proportionate number of reports regarding street drinkers."
The police have asked if the council was minded to grant the licence it should consider a number of restrictions, including the suspension of alcohol sales during all Leicester City home games and limiting any beers, lagers, ciders and perrys on sale to a maximum 5.5 per cent alcohol by volume (ABV).
WHSmith wants permission to sell alcohol between 9.30am and 8pm on Sundays and from 6.30am to 8pm every other day.
A company spokeswoman said: "We are committed to offering a broad range of products, specifically tailored to meet the needs of customers on the move."
Rail passenger Martin Cash, 42, from Leicester, said: "I don't think it is unusual for shops to sell drink at stations but I can see why the police would be edgy about it.
"If you put alcohol in front of their noses they will take it."