A COFFEE shop boss has insisted it wants to be a “good neighbour” as efforts to sell alcohol to visitors face a vote.

Rounton Coffee’s Norton branch has applied for an alcohol licence between 9am and 10.30pm to give its customers more of a choice. But the Leven Road shop faces a Stockton licensing hearing next week to decide whether it will be allowed to offer drinks inside and outside the premises.

Neighbour Claire Patterson has raised concerns about the move given “loud and abusive” drunks from a nearby pub – with fears the cafe seating would be “used as a pub beer garden”.

Her letter to the council added: “The thought of Rounton Coffee also having a licence to serve alcohol from 9am until 10.30pm seven-days-a-week, on top of what I’m already going through, fills me with dread.”

Conditions have been agreed with environmental health teams and police ahead of the meeting next Wednesday. Agreement has been reached on the outdoor area being used no later than 8pm.

Councillors will mull over whether to impose table service at all times both inside and outside the premises – or to have a maximum of ten people standing and drinking inside the bar. Steve Ashman, from Rounton Coffee, said they had applied for a licence to support the business and give customers more of a choice.

He added: “You need to give the customers a choice of what they like – whether it be a cup of coffee or a drink, just like you’d get in most places across Europe. It’s that sort of feeling we want to create.

“We do not want to become another thronging bar – that’s not what we’re about. We want somewhere where people are going to sit down, take a while, chat and get well served.”

Mr Ashman believed there was an opening for such a spot in Norton. He added: “That’s the sort of atmosphere we’re looking for – convivial, pleasant and easy going.

“We want to be good neighbours. I’m hopeful that when we go to the hearing, we’ll be able to placate our neighbour and continue to be good neighbours like we have been.”

Rounton Coffee also runs a branch on Bedford Street, in Middlesbrough. The applicant said they were “still all about the coffee”.

Mr Ashman added: “Alcohol is not going to be at the centre of what we do – it’s just going to be a part of what we offer. Coffee is what we’re all about.”