Fareham's '˜drunk and drugs hub' gets licence to sell alcohol back
A CONVENIENCE store that sold alcohol from its back door to drunk people has been given back its licence.
Oasis in West Street, Fareham, had the licence revoked by Fareham Borough Council in September this year.
But despite concerns that the store was a ‘hub for local drunks and drug addicts’, the council’s has given the store – now under new management and ownership – its licence back.
The decision was made at a meeting at the Civic Offices in Fareham yesterday.
It was given despite concerns from Suzanne Freeman, development manager at the nearby housing complex Homefayre House in Western Road, who wrote a letter to the licensing panel ahead of its decision.
In her letter, she said: ‘The Oasis has been the hub for local drunks/drug addicts to purchase cheap, strong alcohol.
‘The owners and staff appear to have no qualms whatsoever in selling alcohol to persons who are already well and truly inebriated.
‘The effects of this are continued anti-social behaviour, public nuisance, crime and disorder.
‘They use the public area which surrounds the Oasis property as toilets, urinating and defecating for all to see and their actions leave people passing by feeling very vulnerable and distressed.’
Ms Freeman went on in her letter to say that since the store had lost its licence, the anti-social behaviour around the area had ‘dramatically reduced’.
She said that she remained concerned that the same staff from before were running the store.
However, the new owner, Mehulkumar Shutal, who says he lives above the shop, said that he now employs his wife and two cousins to run it with him.
The store, which reopened in late September, had lost its licence after a police investigation found that the identity of staff on the premises was not known to the authorities, that stolen goods were being sold and that alcohol was being sold out of the back door to intoxicated customers.
It also found that one of the former staff members had supplied stolen goods to customers and wiped evidence from the shop’s cctv.
Mr Shutal addressed the store’s troubled history during the meeting.
He said: ‘I cannot change what happens outside the shop but I will do my best to keep the premises clear of this activity.
‘I have been made aware of the history of the premises and everything that goes on outside will not be caused because of Oasis.’
As part of the licence agreement, recommendations from both trading standards at Hampshire County Council and the police mean that CCTV must always be in place where licensable activity is in place.
And an incident log must be kept at the premises with staff being fully trained if they are involved with the sale of alcohol.
Councillor Trevor Cartwright, was chairman for the meeting.
He said: ‘We hope that the agreement in place will work.
‘The store has caused so many problems in the past.’
The borough council recently agreed the implementation of a public spaces protection order for Fareham’s town centre, giving police and council officers more powers to crack down on anti-social behaviour.
Cllr Cartwright added: ‘With the PSPO set to be put in place in January, this will give us more powers to deal with the store should problems arise so residents should not be concerned about this.
‘In the past, it is safe to say that the behaviour was appalling and I have sympathy with Homefayre House.’
Trading standards officers and council officers are set to check up on the store over the coming months to see its progress.