WH Smith wins bid to sell alcohol at Wakefield Westgate railway station

A retailer has been granted permission to sell alcohol from a shop at Wakefield Westgate Railway Station despite strong objections from a local councillor.

By Tony Gardner
Thursday, 9th June 2022, 4:22 pm

WH Smith is proposing to designate an area of its store at the station to sell beers, wines and spirits for consumption off the premises.

The move has not been welcomed by Wakefield North ward councillor Betty Rhodes, who lodged an objection over concerns for public safety and the potential impact it could have for rail users and surrounding residential premises.

Members of Wakefield Council's licensing sub-committee approved the application after hearing submissions from Coun Rhodes and Ewen Macgregor, a solicitor representing WH Smith.

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WH Smith has been given permission to sell alcohol from its shop at Wakefield Westgate railway station.

The retailer will now be allowed to sell alcohol at the store from 6am to 10pm daily.

Mr Macgregor told the meeting that WH Smith currently has 40 stores nationwide which are permitted to sell alcohol, many of them larger than the premises at Westgate.

WH Smith stores at Leeds and Darlington railway stations are among those permitted to sell alcohol.

He said: "Regardless of the size, they operate to high standards.

"None of the licences have ever been subject to regulatory enforcement or review.

"That doesn't happen by accident. It happens by good management."

Mr Macgregor said the six members of staff at the Westgate store undergo regular training in the sale of alcohol.

He told councillors that the premises were covered by CCTV cameras and other security measures were in place to protect staff and customers.

The lawyer added that 66 per cent of customers who bought alcohol at WH Smith stores purchased between one and two units at a time, usually one or two cans of beer.

He said: "On any assessment, WH Smith is an experienced operator who is aware of their obligations and responsibilities."

Coun Rhodes said the sale of alcohol at the station could encourage outside consumption and gatherings that could give train users a perception of unease and concerns about entering and leaving the station.

She said: "When we look to the areas of public concern it is all about children.

"Why should children coming off a train or getting on to a train have to see people buying liquor at the railway station. I think we have moved beyond that or should have moved past that."

Coun Rhodes also objected to alcohol being sold at the station from 6am.

She said: "In terms of public safety, my concern is that people coming off the train after a good night out in Leeds will be able to top up in Wakefield."

The meeting heard West Yorkshire Police had not raised any objection to WH Smith's application.

Unlike many of Yorkshire's busy stations, there is currently no pub or bar at the station, or any other convenience store selling alcohol at Westgate or Kirkgate stations in Wakefield.

Most recently, rail operator Northern initially objected to the former Mallard café at Moorthorpe Railway Station being turned back into a pub last year, raising concerns over anti-social behaviour and drunken passengers.

They later withdrew their objections.