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A newsagent in Bournville has got an alcohol licence and people are freaking out

Written by
Shaun Curnow

As any good Brummie is well aware, the village of Bournville has been (almost) alcohol free for the last 120 years. Originally built by George and Richard Cadbury as an idyllic place for the workers of their chocolate factory, Bournville has remained free of public houses and off licences because of the Cadbury's Quaker beliefs.

Late in September, it was revealed that the Mary Vale News newsagents was to be the first place in Bournville (other than a hotel, social club and somewhat ironically, Cadbury World) given permission to sell beer, wine and spirits.

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Even though technically Mary Vale News, run by shopkeeper Kamal Sharma, is a few meters outside Bournville's 'dry zone', many locals aren't happy about it. One councillor has even gone so as far to describe the decision as 'catastrophic'.

Conservative councillor Rob Sealey said: 'This goes against 120 years of history and heritage in Bournville. There will be a rise in antisocial behaviour in the area now with the selling of alcohol. It is a devastating blow for residents but we will appeal.'

Another of Bourville's councillors, Timothy Huxtable, feared that this could open the floodgates for others to apply for licences, claiming it will 'destroy the special and unique character of Bournville.'

Mr Sharma said that his decision to apply for an alcohol licence had come after he noticed a significant drop in business. Speaking to The Guardian, he said: '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 certainly don’t want to alienate my wonderful customers. It will remain a newsagents and convenience store, but will now sell alcohol,' he added.  

More than 200 residents signed a petition opposing his application, although there were no objections from the Bournville Village Trust or West Midlands Police. Mr Sharma says many of his customers have been supportive.

Has this story left you feeling parched? Here are some of the best off licences in Birmingham.

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