A SUPERMARKET giant is facing a challenge over plans to increase the times it can sell alcohol at weekends in one of its York stores.

Tesco wants to allow booze to be bought for an extra half-hour on Sundays at its Clifton Moor outlet – although the chain said it will retain its existing opening hours.

It insists the move is to smooth the way for customers who only make it through the checkouts just after its current 4pm closing time, but who currently cannot buy beer, wine and spirits if the clock ticks past this point while they are waiting.

But it has been opposed by Rawcliffe Parish Council and Skelton, Rawcliffe and Clifton Without councillor Richard Moore who claims allowing the application – to be discussed at a City of York Council licensing and gambling hearing next week – would betray York’s alcohol-sale policy.

Despite assurances from Tesco that it is not an attempt to extend its opening hours, the objectors said they still intend to fight the extension proposal.

Responding to their concerns in emails which will go before Monday’s hearing, Tesco Stores Ltd licensing manager Greg Bartley said: “The premises will not open for greater than six hours (10am to 4pm) on a Sunday.

“We have requested the ability to sell alcohol until 5pm (now reduced to 4.30pm) to allow customers who have entered the premises before 4pm to continue their shopping, should alcohol be included in their shop. On a normal Sunday, all customers would have completed their shopping by around 4.15pm.

“The request is to take into consideration rare occasions, such as the lead-up to Christmas.”

But Coun Moore said: “I do not accept your assertion that if a customer comes into the store at 3.55pm on a Sunday, they may go through the checkout at 4.15pm, purchasing alcohol.

“This wouldn’t be allowed at a small off-licence, nor should it be allowed in a large supermarket. To try to obtain more time at the end of shopping hours indicates, to me, a lack of consideration for the law.”

A report compiled ahead of the hearing said Tesco’s Tadcaster Road store and the Asda and Sainsbury’s outlets at Monks Cross currently have a 24-hour licence for Sunday opening, although none actually open round the clock.