(HOLD) Indian-origin man allowed to sell alcohol in Britain’s ‘dry village’

London, Oct 3 (IANS) An Indian-origin entrepreneur has been granted permission to sell alcohol in Bournville, dubbed as “The Dry Village” in Britain, lifting a 120-year booze ban from it, a media report said.

In the historic move, the members of Birmingham City Council’s licensing sub-committee agreed to allow Mary Vale News to sell booze from its premises.

While newsagent Kamal Sharma was delighted with the decision, the opposition and Bournville councillor Rob Sealey described the decision as “catastrophic”, Birmingham Mail reported recently.

“This is a catastrophic decision and goes against 120 years of history and heritage in Bournville,” Sealey said.

“I have no doubt it will become an off-licence within 12 months. There will be a rise in anti-social behaviour in the area now with the selling of alcohol. It is a devastating blow for residents but we will appeal,” he added.

Lynda Clinton, chairman of the licensing sub-committee, said Sharma would only be allowed to sell liquor on two conditions. First, he has to put up clear signage telling customers not to drink alcohol outside the premises, and second, a CCTV will have to be installed at the shop while alcohol will be sold between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Thirty-eight-year-old Sharma has been running the shop for seven years and was delighted after the ruling.

“If it had been turned down I would have seriously looked at closing the business down. I am doing all I can to save my business and selling alcohol may just do that. I have suffered since the Bournville plant was sold off in 2010. This will save my business,” Sharma said.

Over 400 people had signed a petition in favour of the proposal. But there were 230 objections from residents.

The Cadbury family that promoted complete personal abstinence from alcoholic beverages built Bournville in the 1890s. The area has remained “dry” ever since.

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