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Agenda item

Application for the Review of a Premises Licence - Grange Villa Mini Market, 19-21 Front Street, Grange Village, Chester-le-Street


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


The Committee considered a report of the Senior Licensing Officer regarding an application for the review of a Premises Licence in respect of Grange Villa Mini Market, 19-21 Front Street, Grange Villa (for copy see file of Minutes).


A copy of the application and supporting documentation had been circulated, together with additional information provided by Durham Constabulary and the Licence Holder.


Members were informed that Mr Somal was unable to attend the hearing but was represented by his son Mr M Singh.


Following a question from Mr Buston, Members were informed that other than mandatory conditions there were no other conditions attached to the existing Premises Licence. The Licence had been issued under the former Justices Act and the licensable activities converted under grandfather rights on the introduction of the new licensing regime.


Mr Hudson of Trading Standards, the applicant was invited to address the Sub-Committee. Mr Hudson provided details of the two failed test purchases on 22 and 23 September 2017, details of which were included in the Bundle of Evidence. The sales had been made by the Licence Holder’s mother, and Officers had been informed that she had recently been robbed at knifepoint and was nervous of confrontation. This was why she had not challenged the youths. A visit had been made to the premises to discuss procedures in place and steps taken to prevent a recurrence. Officers had also sought an assurance that the mother was now able to challenge youths in future. In view of the steps taken by the Licence Holder, Trading Standards did not now request a suspension of the Premises Licence but asked the Sub-Committee to consider imposing robust conditions.


Following questions from Mr Buston, Mr Blount advised that intelligence received from the Neighbourhood Policing Team had advised that the area was having problems with alcohol related anti-social behaviour. Normally a Fixed Penalty Notice would be issued to a member of staff who had failed a test purchase but in this case Officers considered that conditions on the Premises Licence would be more appropriate. 


Ms Smith, Solicitor on behalf of the Licence Holder addressed the Sub-Committee and advised that Mr Samal had purchased the premises over 30 years ago. The family lived above the shop which was a purpose built mini-market. The family were an integral part of the local community and 95% of their customers were local people. The premises was open between the hours of 07.30 and 21.00 hrs and was a typical mini-supermarket selling a range of age restricted products. Mr and Mrs Samal both worked in the shop and their son Mr Singh supervised staff. Mr Singh was embarrassed to be in front of the Sub-Committee and had written a letter of apology immediately after the failed test purchases. The family had always worked hard to prevent underage sales and had not failed a test purchase before.


Mr Singh’s mother had been the subject of an armed robbery by a youth demanding money with a knife. She subsequently felt vulnerable and nervous on her own when youths came into the shop, however she fully accepted that this was no excuse for the failed test purchases. They had immediately taken steps to rectify this to prevent a recurrence. A very productive meeting had taken place on 28 November 2017 and Officers accepted that systems had been put in place. There may have been a misunderstanding in that following that meeting the Licence Holder had not appreciated that Officers wished the steps taken to be formalised.


Mr Singh had assumed responsibility for staff training, using the standard no ID/no sale guide for Managers. Training had not been formally recorded previously but this had now been formalised and staff had all received refresher training. Mr Singh and his mother had passed BTEC underage sales training with a company who he had asked to set up a programme of random test purchases.


In terms of the Police evidence, and the problems in the village, the family were vigilant and tried hard not to be part of the problem. This was evidenced in March 2018 when Police seized alcohol from youths outside the premises, and on checking had found that the bar codes did not match those in their store.


The Durham Local Safeguarding Children’s Board (LSCB) had submitted representations on the basis that the Licence Holder had not taken any action but this had now been resolved.


Referring to the additional information provided, Members were advised of the steps taken to show that they had recorded refusals historically, and had introduced a new register to record challenges made under Challenge 25. If the customer was 18 they were asked for their name for the purpose of the register and if they refused, the sale would be denied.


Following a question from Councillor Maitland, the Member was informed that more than one member of staff would be present when Mr Singh’s mother was working.


Councillor Brown asked what proportion of shop sales was alcohol and was informed that alcohol sales represented around 25-30%. Following a further question from the Member Ms Smith advised that it was not possible to state if there had been previous inadvertent sales to under 18s but that they had never failed any test purchases previously.


Councillor Blakey referred to the bar codes and was advised that this had been recorded in the refusals register included with the additional information. Mr Blount added that bar codes were checked as an emergency cross-check when there were incidents reported.


All parties were invited to sum up. Ms Smith concluded that the family had an exemplary trading record and reiterated that they had never failed a test purchase previously. It seemed that the problems had arisen because Mr Singh’s mother had been overwhelmed in the aftermath of a robbery. There had been some confusion following the meeting on 28 November 2017 but notwithstanding this the family had put in place what had been asked.


Ms Smith asked the Sub-Committee to have regard to paragraphs 11.10, 11.17, 11.20 and 11.29 of Section 182 Guidance.


A short suspension of the Premises Licence would be catastrophic on the business; if alcohol could not be sold other sales would affected as well. She urged Members to accept the recommendations of Officers.  


At 10.45am the Sub-Committee Resolvedto retire to deliberate the application in private. After re-convening at 11.00am, the Chair delivered the Sub-Committee’s decision.


In reaching their decision, Members had taken into account the report of the Senior Licensing Officer and additional information, the verbal and written representations of the applicant, the Licence Holder’s representatives, and the written representations of the LSCB. The Sub-Committee had also taken into account the Council’s Statement of Licensing Policy and Section 182 Guidance issued by the Secretary of State.




That the following additional conditions be imposed upon the Premises Licence at Annex 3:-


                i.                          Any CCTV that is installed to be maintained and working at all times covering both inside and the immediate vicinity of the outside of the shop.  Recordings must be stored for a minimum of 28 days. 


               ii.                          CCTV footage must be available and downloaded upon request from an Authorised Officer from a Responsible Authority. 


              iii.                          Notices will be clearly displayed at the entrance and around the premises stating CCTV is in operation. 


              iv.                          All incidents occurring at the premises will be recorded in an Incident Book maintained by the Premises Licence holder or a nominated member of staff.  The details which will be recorded in the Incident Book are: the time and date of the incident; the name or full description of any person(s) involved (including staff members), whether the incident was recorded on CCTV, and the signature of the person making the entry.  This book will be available at all times for inspection by the Police and other Responsible Authorities upon request. 


               v.                          Persons known to be, or suspected to be, buying alcohol or tobacco on behalf of children will be refused and reported to the Police. 


              vi.                          The operation of a documented Age Certification Policy (Challenge 25) where all patrons believed to be under the age of 25 who seek to purchase age restricted goods will be asked to provide proof of age in the form of a UK Driving Licence, Passport, Military ID card or photo identification which is endorsed with the government PASS holographic logo.


            vii.                          A refusals register must be in place at the premises and used to keep a record of all attempted test purchases of alcohol and tobacco where a person believed to be under 25 is challenged and no identification is provided and the sale is therefore refused. 


           viii.                          The refusals register should record: the date and time of the refusal, a description of the young person refused, the goods asked for, any significant comments made or behaviours exhibited by the person and the signature of the person making the entry. 


              ix.                          The register should be checked for completion and signed off on a regular basis by the DPS or Premise Licence Holder.  The refusal register must be kept available at all times for inspection by the Police and other Responsible Authorities upon request. 


               x.                          Notices to be displayed concerning the law surrounding the ban on the sale of alcohol to children and explaining the Challenge 25 scheme. 


              xi.                          All staff to receive full training on the law surrounding the sale of age restricted products and the operation of the Challenge 25 scheme.  Refresher training will be carried out on an annual basis and regular reminders given to staff as to their obligations with respect to the above. 


            xii.                          The results of any privately-arranged test purchase exercises shall be provided to the licensing authority, if so requested

Supporting documents:


Democratic Services
Durham County Council
County Hall
County Durham
03000 269 714