POLICE have barred a shop from selling alcohol for two weeks after staff were caught serving alcohol to children.
Trading Standards officers joined police to take action against Clapps newsagents, a 55-year-old family business, on Hayling seafront.
At a hearing at Havant Borough Council yesterday owner Nigel Swan, 50, was accused of being drunk on two occasions when officers arrived to interview him about the sales – a claim he strenuously denies.
The council’s licensing sub-committee heard that between April and July this year staff twice served under-18s with drink, despite the shop being signed up to the Community Alcohol Partnership.
Speaking at the hearing Trading Standards officer Stephen Lawford said that after the first failure, in April, the staff member was given an £80 fixed penalty notice and officers visited the store to speak to Mr Swan.
He said: ‘It is usual practice to speak to the designated premises supervisor – Mr Swan – but when PC Barron asked his son if he could speak to his father he was told he was upstairs and asleep under the influence of alcohol.’
Mr Swan denied he was drunk saying he only ‘had my tea and two pints’ at a pub before retiring early for bed because he had to get up at 4am the following day to sort out the newspapers.
After the store failed a second alcohol purchase test officers visited Mr Swan at 10am on July 23.
Mr Lawford said: ‘Officers noticed Mr Swan smelled strongly of alcohol and asked if he had been drinking alcohol that morning but he said that he had not.’
The decision was taken to stop alcohol sales at the shop immediately for a week and officers put in an application to stop alcohol sales completely.
But Dreen Chestnutt, who represented her brother, Mr Swan, said he had resigned from his post as the designated premises supervisor and the manager Darren Sawyer would now take over the role.
She said staff had been trained on the strict Challenge 25 policy but, because of Mr Swan’s recent marital break-up and his dyslexia, records were not kept up to date.
The committee decided to impose a further two-week ban on alcohol sales and imposed strict conditions on the shop’s licence.
Speaking afterwards Mr Swan said: ‘I’m happy with the result.
‘But, I can categorically say I was not drunk when the officers said I was. If I had an interview at 10am would I really get up early and start drinking?
‘And I was not drunk when they turned up the other time – it was about 8pm and I was in bed.
‘We’ve never had any problems before – in all the years we have had the business.’