The trading standards officer reported that test purchases were often carried out following concerns raised by local residents. He stated that, on the 24 July 2018 a test purchase was conducted and the employee sold alcohol to a person under the age of 18 years. It was the responsibility of the owner to ensure that they had done all they could to prevent the sale. In this instance the seller was not trained until the day after. This was too little, too late, in his view. However, this was the only negative history of the premises and therefore a short suspension of the licence was recommended.
The licensing authority supported the review and recommended a lengthy suspension so that the licensee could put things in order and it was also recommended that a condition be added to the licence preventing the sale of high strength alcohol. In response to a question from the Sub-Committee it was stated that this could be possibly be a suspension for two months for staff training and to get rid of old stock.
The police were in support of the review. It was noted that anti-social behaviour in this area was a major concern, a strain on police resources and also made life difficult for local residents.
The community safety officer welcomed the condition proposing lower strength alcohol. Street drinking in the area was an on-going issue and measures needed to be in place to ensure reduction in harm.
CouncillorSpall advised that her objections were dealt with in her paper in the agenda. The authority had worked to deal with street drinking in the area. The licensee had continued to sell alcohol to those who were already intoxicated and was adding to the street drinking problem in the area.
The licensee reported that an employee sold alcohol to a 15 year old. The licensee reported that the employee had been trained but she had a learning disability which he was not aware of. Apart from this one issue they were fully compliant and it had not happened before. The employee was no longer working at the shop. Staff were all fully trained. The training record could not be found when requested but this was found afterwards.
In response to questions it was noted that the training for the employee had been carried out after the sale was made. The trading standards officer reported that the seller was culpable but had been trained after the sale had occurred. There was no training log or refusals book produced. In response to a question about Challenge 25 the licensee stated he asked customers for ID and if it was not produced he would ask them to leave. He did not maintain a refusals log. A refusal could happen about ten times a day. He stated that he would produce a refusals log from now on but had not done so before. The licensee was informed that keeping a refusals log was a condition of his licence. The Sub-Committee raised concerns that the licensee was not fully aware of his responsibilities and he responded by stating that he did not have the time. He stated that he trained new members of staff every six months. He sat with them and explained everything but he accepted that he had not been telling staff about the refusals log. When the Sub-Committee asked how they could be confident in his ability to manage the premises, the licensee said that this was the first time this had happened. The member of staff who sold the alcohol to the minor finished work at two o’clock each day and most refusals would have happened after this time.
In summary, the trading standards officer stated he was very concerned that a member of staff had been dismissed although they had not been trained and the licensee himself is not familiar with the licence. The licensing authority agreed that you could not blame the member of staff when the licensee had no understanding of the licensing conditions. The police officer, community safety officer and Councillor Spall stated that they had concerns about the management in the premises and that he did not have a grasp of the licensing conditions when selling alcohol.
The licensee had no further comment to make in summation.
That the premises licence in respect of Hornsey Local Supermarket, 504-506 Hornsey Road, N19 3QW be revoked.
REASONS FOR DECISION
The Sub-Committee listened to all the evidence and submissions and read all the material. 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.
Taking into account licensing policy 8, the Sub-Committee considered that the licence holder had failed to demonstrate a commitment to high standards of management. He did not appear to have comprehensive knowledge of best practice, blamed the seller of the alcohol rather than considering his own role and seemed to have poor understanding of his responsibilities. He had failed to comply with conditions such as maintaining a refusals log and appeared not to be aware that one should be maintained although he accepted that there were numerous incidents each day when children were attempting to purchase alcohol in his shop. He had failed to produce training records to trading standards at any time other than one which showed that the seller had been trained the day after the incident. He seemed unfamiliar with the conditions on his licence or their importance and said that he was too busy.
There were also concerns about the sale of high strength alcohol at low prices which raised questions about the source of the supply. Councillor Spall said she had witnessed street drinkers who she recognised from Elthorne Park coming out of the premises and both she and the community safety officer referred to the ongoing problems with vulnerable street drinkers in nearby Elthorne Park. Under licensing policy 14 the licensing authority expects licensees to operate to the highest standards of management and to cooperate with responsible authorities to prevent the sale of alcohol to underage children and street drinking in the local vicinity.
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. It considered the removal of the designated premises supervisor and a suspension but did not think that these would deal with the underlying problems of management. There were sufficient conditions on the licence already but the licence holder did not seem to understand these conditions. In particular, a suspension would not help as there appeared to be no commitment on the part of the premises licence holder to address the problems.