Shop booze ban for month after selling to children

Redbarn Express newsagents and off licence in Linden Lea Road, Portchester
Redbarn Express newsagents and off licence in Linden Lea Road, Portchester

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A CONVENIENCE store has been ordered to stop selling booze for 28 days after it sold alcohol to youngsters twice in less than three months.

The Redbarn Express in Linden Lea, Portchester, has had its license suspended following a review by Fareham Borough Council’s licensing panel at the request of the police.

Staff member Divyand Patel sold a bottle of wine to two 16-year-olds taking part in a police test purchase operation on August 28 last year.

He was given an £80 on-the-spot fine.

But on November 16, the same man repeated his offence during a follow-up visit by teenagers acting for the police. He was again fined and the store was given a 48 hour closure order for December 18 and 19.

Licensing officer PC Jason Pearce said that he and his Hampshire trading standards counterpart Paul Worrall had visited the store after its first failure to speak to the premises’ licence holder, explain the law and give them a staff training pack.

PC Pearce said: ‘For a premises to fail once shows significant failings. When a premises sells to underage people twice in short succession it does bring in to question that perhaps the premises is showing no regard for the law. In those two-and-a-half months, nothing had happened.

‘Mr Patel was made fully aware of the consequences of a second failure, but failed to act.’

The three member panel rejected the police’s call for the licence to be revoked for three months, but did also insist that the shop’s owners agree to a list of eight extra conditions, including books to register refusals, a new CCTV system and prompt messages on tills when alcohol is scanned.

PC Pearce added: ‘We can’t tolerate rogue premises that put profit before selling alcohol to children.’

Licensing consultant Surendra Panchal, representing the shop, told the hearing that Raju Patel, who had been both the licence holder and designated premises supervisor (DPS) for the store at the time of the two offences had since left.

He has been replaced by Mehul Patel as the licence holder and Pinkal Patel as the DPS. Mr Panchal said: ‘The staff have now been fully trained. I am stressing now how careful the shop is.

‘My client is prepared to follow all necessary additions. The shop is now in good hands.’