ANGRY residents have claimed controversial plans to allow a petrol station to sell alcohol will damage a conservation area and lead to increased crime.

The Total UK filling station, in Grange Road, Darlington, has applied for a licence to trade alcohol between 6am and 11pm every day.

Homeowners have started a petition to stop the proposals which they believe could lead to drink driving, cause road accidents, and encourage under-age drinking.

The company has also been accused of previously causing excess noise and disruption by selling fuel and operating a car wash outside of permitted hours.

However, bosses at Total UK have denied alcohol sales will create a rise in anti-social behaviour.

The proposals, due to be discussed by Darlington Borough Council’s licensing sub-committee on Wednesday, December 19, have received strong opposition from a number of residents, including Tricia Todd, of Grange Road.

Ms Todd said: “We are in a conservation area and do not need a corner shop of the type selling cut-price alcohol in cans.

“We also have had a considerable amount of trouble from gangs of youths using South Park, and selling alcohol would encourage youths to congregate on garden walls and drink.”

Daphne Jones, who lives in Hadrian Court, said under-age drinking was already a problem in the area.

She said: “We already have groups of drinkers gathering to carouse in certain hot spots, who disturb the residents with noisy and unruly behaviour late at night, and leave behind bottles, cans and litter.”

Councillor Cyndi Hughes, the council’s cabinet member for children and young people, and Councillor Heather Scott, leader of the Conservatives in Darlington, have also opposed the granting of the licence, claiming it could put in jeopardy the safety of pupils at nearby Polam Hall School and St Augustine's RC Primary School.

Coun Scott, ward member for Park West, said: “We already have anti-social behaviour in Green Park, so do not want to attract anymore to the area.

“Alcohol is a major problem in our society and there are a huge number of people who are in hospital for alcohol related problems.

“We should be making it more difficult to get alcohol, not easier.”