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Agenda item

Application to Transfer a Premises Licence - Off Licence, 4 Victoria Terrace, Murton, Seaham

Minutes:

Members: Councillor C Carr (Chair), Councillors J Blakey and D Brown.

 

The Committee considered a report of the Senior Licensing Officer regarding an application for the transfer of a Premises Licence in respect of the Off-licence, 4 Victoria Terrace, Murton (for copy see file of Minutes).

 

A copy of the application and supporting documentation had been circulated together with additional information from Durham Constabulary.

 

Sgt Dickenson was invited to address the Sub-Committee and advised that the Police had objected to the application because they considered that the licensing objective ‘crime and disorder’ would be undermined. The applicant was the DPS at the time the underage sales were made during a test purchase operation last year. Trading Standards had submitted an application to review the Premises Licence and at that time the Licence was surrendered. Sgt Dickenson believed that this was an attempt to circumvent the review process. On 21 August 2015 Mrs Randhawa had applied to be the Premises Licence Holder but no payment had been made. The Senior Licensing Officer later clarified that application had been made for a transfer of the Premises Licence on 20 August 2015 and to vary the DPS on 21 August 2015 but had been rejected as payment was not received.

 

Mr Hudson of Trading Standards stated that the test purchases had been carried out following the receipt of complaints. At the time of the test purchase on 24 August 2017 Mrs Randhawa claimed not to know who the DPS was yet it was later established that she had been granted a Personal Licence by Wolverhampton County Council. Upon interview of the Licence Holder it was apparent that inadequate procedures were in place and Trading Standards had concerns about the implementation of effective controls.

 

Mr Blount stated that original intelligence had been received from the Parish Council regarding issues of anti-social behaviour. Test purchases were subsequently carried out on all premises in the Murton area.  Together with PCSO Williamson he had spoken to Mrs Randhawa following the failed test purchase and he confirmed that there appeared to be some confusion as to who was the DPS. As it later transpired that Mrs Randhawa held a Personal Licence and was the DPS, a Fixed Penalty Notice was not an option.

 

Following questions from Councillor Carr, Mr Blount confirmed that the premises had not been singled out and the exercise had taken place in all licensed premises in the Murton area. The Off-licence was the last premises to be tested and the only one to have failed. The shop was small and from the counter every part of the store was visible. During the CCTV footage Mrs Randhawa had not looked up at the youth but he conceded that she may have done so before the sale.

 

Mr Cosgrove asked if the review application had been made on the basis that more robust conditions should be imposed upon the Premises Licence. This was confirmed by Mr Hudson.

 

Sgt Dickenson responded to a further question from Mr Cosgrove regarding the inference that the review process had been circumvented. The Officer advised that the surrender of the Premises Licence negated the need for a review yet an application for the transfer of the Premises Licence was applied for within seven days of the surrender.

 

Mr Cosgrove was invited to address the Sub-Committee. He commenced by providing background to the premises and Mrs Randhawa. Mrs Randhawa and her husband lived above the premises and the business was their sole form of income. Mrs Randhawa was experienced having managed two other premises in South Shields and Sunderland. The Sunderland business had not been a success and with family help she had purchased stock for the Murton store. The Personal Licence had been issued in Wolverhampton where her family lived. In relation to the test purchases Mr Cosgrove advised that Mrs Randhawa was not present on the second occasion.

 

Councillor Carr asked about the provision of training and was informed that this was undertaken verbally by her husband.

 

Mr Cosgrove asked a number of questions of Mrs Randhawa. At the time of the surrender alcohol had been removed from the shelves. Mrs Randhawa and her husband had undertaken refresher training with consultants and records were provided. She now knew how to train new members of staff in future and how to record this in the training manual. Challenge 25 had been implemented with posters erected around the shop.

 

There was no separate incident book but these were also recorded in the refusals register. CCTV was installed both inside and outside the premises and recordings held for four weeks.  Mrs Randhawa’s husband was taking steps to obtain a Personal Licence and would apply to be the DPS in future.

 

Mrs Randhawa confirmed that she would be willing to accept more stringent conditions. If the application was refused she would have to leave the premises and she had realised her errors, and would take steps to become a fit and proper person to hold a Premises Licence.

 

Following a question from Councillor Carr, Mrs Randhawa advised that she did not intend to employ any more staff at present and that she would aim to work eight hours a day in the store as DPS. At present she worked between six and seven hours per day and her husband worked the remaining opening hours.

 

Sgt Dickenson referred to the training carried out and was advised that this took place on 6 July 2018.

 

Mr Buston noted that at the time of the test purchase Mrs Randhawa had not said that she was the DPS and was informed by Mrs Randhawa that she had thought this position was held by the landlady.

 

All parties were invited to sum up.

 

Sgt Dickenson stated that the Police concerns remained. She was also concerned that the training had only been undertaken very recently and steps had not been taken immediately after the failed test purchases. 

 

Mr Cosgrove stated that Mrs Randhawa had accepted that she was the DPS and was present at one test purchase. She was not denying culpability but had tried to take steps to tighten up processes and was taking steps for her husband to obtain a Personal Licence. Mrs Randhawa would voluntarily apply more stringent conditions, as suggested as part of the review application. She had already seen the effect of not being able to sell alcohol when the Premises Licence had been surrendered by the landlady, and she would not be able to continue the business without this. She asked the Sub-Committee to find that she had taken sufficient steps to ensure that the licensing objectives would be upheld. Mrs Randhawa would continually review procedures in place.

 

At 12.05pm the Sub-Committee Resolved to retire to deliberate the application in private. After re-convening at 12.25pm the Chairman delivered the Sub-Committee’s decision.

 

In reaching their decision the Sub-Committee considered the report of the Senior Licensing Officer and additional information, together with the verbal and written representations of the applicant and her representative, and Durham Constabulary and their witnesses from Trading Standards.   Members had also taken into account the Council’s Statement of Licensing Policy and Section 182 Guidance issued by the Secretary of State.

 

Resolved:

 

That the application to transfer the Premises Licence be refused.

Supporting documents:

 

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