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Drinks licence granted to tots' play area

PUBLISHED: 16:46 12 November 2008 | UPDATED: 09:49 12 August 2010

OUTRAGE: Damaris Hammerli and son Gianlucca.

OUTRAGE: Damaris Hammerli and son Gianlucca.

PARENTS are furious after a council ignored objections and granted an alcohol licence to a children s playground. Bromley council gave permission for the Gambado play centre, in Copers Cope Road, Beckenham, to sell alcohol every day from 9.30am to 8.30pm

PARENTS are furious after a council ignored objections and granted an alcohol licence to a children's playground.

Bromley council gave permission for the Gambado play centre, in Copers Cope Road, Beckenham, to sell alcohol every day from 9.30am to 8.30pm despite objections.

Now parents fear that the licence could encourage drink driving, child negligence and noise pollution at the venue.

Outraged mother Damaris Hammerli, 32, who takes her four-year-old son there, said: "It's a children's play area so why do they need a licence? It's completely bizarre. What next? Schools?

"At Gambado you have to supervise your children yourself. I don't want my son to be exposed to that sort of environment. I have a vision of drunken parents everywhere. It makes me not want to go there anymore.

"I love a glass of wine but I have it at home. Why do they need to serve alcohol from 9.30am? Nearly everyone drives there.

"I only saw the notice for a licence on a lamppost outside and I called Gambado bosses to ask what the deal was."

Copers Cope Road resident Kate White, 30, said: "It's completely irresponsible to mix alcohol and a children's area and it's negligent for the council to give its permission. We constantly hear parents shouting at their kids for running near the cars which will be made worse now the licence has been granted. It's only a matter of time before there's a horrible tragedy. It's a recipe for disaster."

Parents are responsible for looking after their own children at the centre and the majority of people drive there. The website describes it as "a safe, clean environment to both play and learn."

North Copers Cope residents association submitted an 11-page document outlining their objections including noise, inadequate parking and 'detrimental effects and dangers' to children.

Another resident, Anna Louise Charlesworth, of The Knoll, wrote: "If individuals are allowed to drink, they run the risk of becoming drunk. Gambado must be in walking distance for a small percentage of Gambado customers so we must run a high risk of encouraging potentially drunk drivers with small children in the car."

A spokesperson for Gambado said: "The purpose of the licence enables us to provide alcohol to parents who are celebrating special occasions with us and is exactly the same as if parents choose to celebrate their children' s birthdays at a restaurant.

"Gambado is a responsible business that follows strict guideline to ensure we are looking after all families at all times. We will be serving over 21s only with a Challenge 25 and refusal register system in place. Similar offerings are available at other family play centres. As part of the community in Copers Cope Road we respect and work with the local residents. To ensure that our licence has no affect on them we have restricted our service hours."

Tony Owen, chairman of the council's licensing committee at Bromley council said: "The law states that a licence must be granted where proper preparation has been made to meet the licensing objectives including the protection of children from harm. In order to refuse a licence, we have to have valid evidence that these will not be met.

"In this case the establishment emphasised its safety and security arrangements, their staffing and training arrangements and short-stay policy. No objections were made by statutory bodies such as the police.

"The licensing committee imposed a number of conditions including serving only customers over 21. We also specified that alcohol be kept to the rear of the servery, with no promotions or large advertising and that people leave quietly.

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