Off-licence boss’s campaign against another shopkeeper’s plans to sell booze in Bethnal Green

An off-licence boss fighting against another shopkeeper’s plans to sell alcohol has gathered more than 100 signatures as part of his campaign.

The Ekol Food Centre is set to open in Bethnal Green shortly, and owner Adnan Aktepe has applied to Tower Hamlets Council for permission to sell alcohol at his small supermarket.

But Hakan Gulcelik, who runs City Wines and Food with his brother Kaan a few doors down in Bethnal Green Road, is spearheading a campaign opposing the licence application.

“I have to deal with a lot of nuisance and antisocial behaviour around here,” he said. “We don’t want everyone here selling alcohol because that will make things worse.”

He also pointed out the street is just off Brick Lane, which the council is currently considering declaring a “saturation zone” that would give licensing bosses increased powers to clamp down on new shops, restaurants and bars selling booze.

“Other businesses and residents are supporting this petition,” he said, adding he had collected 107 signatures by Monday.

But licensing agent Kenan Kera, who works for Advance Planning Licensing Ltd which has submitted the application on Mr Aktepe’s behalf, says the petitioners shouldn’t be concerned.

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“My client is mainly going to sell groceries,” he said. “Alcohol is just a small proportion.

“Supermarkets like Tesco sell alcohol and they open everywhere. This will be a local shop, not just an off licence. It’s a family business.

“We always want to work with the community – and they are welcome to come and discuss this and ask us questions.”

A spokeswoman for Tower Hamlets said the application is currently at the consultation stage. A decision by the licensing committee is set to be made next Wednesday (March 13).

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