The licensee was not present at the meeting.
The legal officer advised that under Regulation 20(2) of The Licensing Act 2003 (Hearings) Regulations 2005, the hearing could continue where the licensee had failed to attend or be represented at the hearing but that any representations made by him should be considered. The hearing should only be adjourned if the Sub-Committee considered it to be necessary in the public interest.
The licensing officer reported that notice had been served and the licensee had made no contact. Notice had been served by both post and by email. The licensee had appointed an agent and they had been served notice of the meeting.
The Sub-Committee agreed that it would not be in the public interest to adjourn the meeting.
The trading standards officer who had brought the review stated that there had been a lack of engagement throughout the whole process. In summary, there had been a test purchase conducted on the 12 July, no challenges regarding identification were made by the business, indicating that Challenge 25 was not in operation. They were advised that training could be offered to them but no response was received. A further test purchase was conducted on the 24 July and alcohol was sold to a person under the age of 18 years. The father of the licensee sold the alcohol. When spoken to by the trading standards officer it appeared that his command of English was poor and it was considered that he was not equipped to deal with Challenge 25 situations. A previous premises holder, Cern Aytac, was heavily involved in the business, despite a condition of the licence preventing this. There was a history of poor co-operation and engagement and it was recommended that the licence be revoked.
The licensing authority supported the review. The management had failed to contact the licensing team or trading standards on numerous occasions. The person who seemed to be running the business should not be involved. She asked that the Sub-Committee consider revocation. The police supported the review and stated that this was a poor level of management. The public health team echoed their support for the review reporting on the health impacts of underage drinking.
The community safety officer had also put in a representation in support of the review. She reported that it seemed that there had been no motivation for the licensee to improve their business. She was concerned about the long term issues in the area regarding street drinking. Off licences which were known to have less regard for their responsibility would impact anti-social behavior and harm reduction that needed to be managed in the area. Councillor Spall outlined her representation at page 105 of the agenda and highlighted that premises that sold to people who were already drunk and with poor management needed to be dealt with robustly.
That the premises licence in respect of Savestore Express, 495-497 Hornsey Road, N19 3QL be revoked.
REASONS FOR DECISION
The Sub-Committee listened to all the evidence and submissions and read all the material and noted the absence of anyone representing the premises. The Sub-Committee reached the decision having given consideration to the Licensing Act 2003, as amended, and its regulations, the national guidance and the Council’s Licensing Policy.
The Sub-Committee noted that the licence holder appeared to have instructed a legal adviser but no representations or communications had been received from either the legal adviser or anyone associated with management at the premises. Councillors had checked that sufficient efforts had been made by the licensing authority to ensure that the licence holder was aware of the review and the hearing. It appeared that this was characteristic of the management of the premises. The designated premises supervisor and licence holder had played a minimal part in the whole affair. It appeared that he was largely abroad and absent from the premises and no authorisation from him was produced to trading standards. The person selected to discuss the situation with the responsible authorities was a person prohibited from involvement with any licensable activity whatsoever at the premises. The seller of the alcohol had admitted that he had little command of English and the Sub-Committee questioned whether he would be able to deal with Challenge 25 or requiring identification from underage purchasers. Within a very short period the premises had failed Challenge 25, a test purchase to a 15 year old, had been evasive about meeting with trading standards officers and had sold high strength beer to officers in circumstances which suggested that the goods might be illicit. In addition, no training records were produced to trading standards. Councillor Spall confirmed that she had witnessed people whom she recognised as street drinkers coming out of the shop. The Community Safety officer spoke about the problems with street drinking in nearby Elthorne Park and the dangers of selling alcohol to vulnerable people.
The Sub-Committee took into account the licensee’s lack of commitment to high standards of management under licensing policy 8 and the apparent inability of the licence holder and management generally to run the business lawfully and in accordance with good business practice. Written advice had been ignored. Conditions relating to training and Challenge 25 had been totally disregarded. The responsibility for running the premises and dealing with regulatory concerns appeared to have been passed to Mr Aytac who had been prohibited from being involved in any licensable activity by condition on the licence. Contrary to licensing policy 14 the premises had failed to operate to the highest standards of management or to cooperate to prevent the sale of alcohol to underage children or street drinkers in the local vicinity. Licensing policy 28, paragraph 141, states that restricting access to alcohol for children under 18 has been a high priority for Islington for many years to help reduce anti-social behaviour and health issues associated with underage drinking. The Sub-Committee noted the contribution made by public health to the discussion.
The Sub-Committee noted Home Office guidance 11.20 – 11.29 about powers on a review. It was clear that management of the premises did not operate a responsible policy towards sales of alcohol to children and had not exercised due diligence. Attempts by the responsible authorities to encourage better management had been ignored. The Sub-Committee considered that revocation and no lesser step was appropriate and proportionate in this case.
The Sub-Committee concluded that it was appropriate to the licensing objectives, the protection of children from harm, the prevention of public nuisance and prevention of crime and disorder and proportionate to revoke the licence. The licence holder had failed to engage with either advice from the responsible authorities or the process of review. There was no explanation for his absence from the review hearing.