Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

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Licensing Sub Committee (ceased to operate 10/04/2017) Minutes

Date:
Wednesday, 16th January, 2013
Time:
10.00 a.m.
Place:
First Floor Committee Room, Town Hall, High Street, Stockton on Tees, TS18 1AJ
 
Please note: all Minutes are subject to approval at the next Meeting

Attendance Details

Present:
Cllr Paul Kirton, Cllr Eileen Johnson and Cllr Michael Clark
Officers:
S Mills, J Allwood (DNS); J Nertney (LD)
In Attendance:
Sergeant Daley, PC Johnson(Cleveland Police); PCSO Stephenson (Cleveland Police), M Nevison (Solicitor for Cleveland Police); J Mackenow (Solicitor for the Premise Licence Holder), A Kaur (Premise Licence Holder and Designated Premises Supervisor)
Apologies for absence:
None
Item Description Decision
Public
LSC
19/12
APPOINTMENT OF CHAIR
RESOLVED that Cllr Kirton be appointed Chairman of this meeting only.
LSC
20/12
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
 
LSC
21/12
DEL CONVENIENCE STORE, 6 RIMSWELL PARADE, STOCKTON ON TEES - APPLICATION FOR REVIEW OF A PREMISE LICENCE UNDER THE LICENSING ACT 2003
RESOLVED that:-

1. Premises licence be revoked.

2. Mrs Kaur be removed as the Designated Premises Supervisor
10.00am - 1.00pm

Preamble

ItemPreamble
LSC
20/12
There were no declarations of interest.
LSC
21/12
Members considered a report on an application for review of a premise licence in respect of Dell Convenience Store, 6 Rimswell Parade, Stockton on Tees had been received from Cleveland Police.

Members were advised that these premises currently had the benefit of a premise licence that permitted the supply of alcohol.

The opening hours of the premises were Monday to Friday 08.00 until 22.00, Saturday 09.00 until 22.00, Sunday 10.00 until 22.00

Members were provided with a copy of the existing licence.

Representation had been received from Trading Standards. The representation related to the protection of children from harm objective.

Four representations had been received from interested parties supporting Cleveland Police with their application for review of these premises.

Members were respectfully reminded of the need to give due consideration to Stockton Borough Councils Licensing Policy Statement and the Section 182 Revised Guidance issued October 2012 under the Licensing Act 2003 when considering this application for review.

Members were to carry out their functions with a view to promoting the four licensing objectives.

Members were reminded of their powers under the provisions of Section 52 of The Licensing Act 2003.

Members gave consideration to the report, the application and the representations which had been received.

A copy of the report and witness statements had been provided to all those persons present and to Members of the Committee. Members noted that the review of the premises licence was made at the request of Cleveland Police. Representations in support of the review had also been submitted by Trading Standards who were in support of the Polices review application. Members noted that four letters had been received from members of the public who lived within the vicinity of the premise and indicated that they supported the Polices review application.

Mrs Nevison (Solicitor for Cleveland Police) called evidence and stated that the Polices application was based on their belief that Mrs Kaur was knowingly involved in under age sales of alcohol to persons under age.

Evidence was given by PC Johnson who confirmed that five test purchase operations had been carried out at the premise and that refusals to sell had been made on four occasions. PC Johnson stated that in two of the test purchase operations that had been carried out Mrs Kaur (on 17.03.11) and another member of staff (on 08.04.11) had each indicated that they would have sold to the underage person if they had said they were over 18. Both Mrs Kaur and the other shop assistant were spoken to by the Police following the test purchase operations and each denied saying that to the young person. PC Johnson stated that on considering all of the evidence that had been collated he believed that Mrs Kaur would only sell to persons who she knew and that was the reason for the failure of the test purchase operations. PC Johnson stated that he had viewed the CCTV footage that had been seized and collated and he believed it showed a degree of collusion between Mrs Kaur and the young persons who were purchasing alcohol or that Mrs Kaur knew the youths well and was therefore willing to sell alcohol to them. The Police received a report from a member of the public who believed a robbery was taking place at the store as a number of youths were in the stock room. CCTV footage was shown of this incident and other incidents when the Police said it showed under age sale of alcohol by Mrs Kaur. PC Johnson referred to the witness's statement and Anti-Social behaviour Officer. Mr Dunwell had collated the names of youths connected with ant social behaviour in the area. PC Johnson stated that he had spoken to these youths who confirmed that they had purchased alcohol from Mrs Kaur at the premise. The youths denied providing I.D. to Mrs Kaur.

Evidence was given by PCSO Stephenson as to the ages of the person identified on the CCTV footage. PCSO Stephenson confirmed that the youths were under the age of 18. PCSO Stephenson confirmed that she had worked in the area for approximately 6 years and was well aware of the youths who congregated in the vicinity and of their ages which she corroborated via Police computer records (CUPID device).

Members were shown the CCTV footage which the Police claimed showed underage sales of alcohol to youths. The Police invited Members to agree that the footage showed either a close relationship or a degree of collusion between Mrs Kaur and the youths when sales of alcohol were taking place.

Mrs Nevison also invited the Committee to have regard to the witness statements provided by PC Allen and PCSO Widdowfield.

Mrs Mackenow, Solicitor on behalf of Mrs Kaur, was given the opportunity to cross examine PC Johnson and PCSO Stephenson.

Miss Allwood (Trading Standards Officer) stated that Trading Standards shared the concerns of Cleveland Police and supported the application for review. Trading Standards believed the licensing objectives were being undermined and that Mrs Kaur was complicit in under age sales of alcohol from the premise.

Miss Allwood showed CCTV footage that had been seized from the premise and which showed under age sales of alcohol at the premise. One of the pieces of footage also showed a sale of cigarettes to a youth under the age of 18.

Mrs Mackenow was given the opportunity to cross examine Miss Allwood.

The meeting was adjourned due to insufficient time to deal with the remainder of the item.

The meeting was reconvened on Tuesday, 29th January 2013.

Present: Cllr Paul Kirton, Cllr Eileen Johnson and Cllr Michael Clark

Officers: S Mills (DNS); J Nertney (LD)

Also in attendance: Sergeant Daley, PC Johnson (Cleveland Police); M Nevison (Solicitor for Cleveland Police); J Mackenow (Solicitor for the Premise Licence Holder), A Kaur (Premise Licence Holder and Designated Premises Supervisor)

Mrs Mackenow stated that the Kaur family had recently been through an extremely traumatic experience as Mrs Kaur's mother was subject to a violent robbery in the family home. Since the incident Mrs Kaur now wished to distance herself from the business and she was looking to transfer the DPS role to someone new. The premise was currently for sale and had been marketed through a commercial agent. Given the state of the market it could take some time to sell the premise.

Mrs Mackenow stated that Mrs Kaur had put herself down for more training. In relation to procedures the premise did have a refusals register and the store also operated a Challenge 25 policy. Mrs Kaur provided assurance that she did request I.D. from customers. Mrs Kaur stated that the youths who appeared on the CCTV had provided I.D. in the past and in relation to some she had spoken to their parents on the phone to confirm their age.

Mrs Mackenow stated that Mrs Kaur told her that since the Police took the CCTV from the premise that the local youths knew this and that shoplifting had increased in the premise.

Mrs Mackenow addressed Members on the sanctions available to them. Mrs Mackenow stated that revocation was, in her view, a draconian measure and a step too far. Mrs Mackenow invited the Committee to consider removing Mrs Kaur as DPS. Mrs Kaur had taken steps to put right what had gone wrong.

Mrs Mackenow indicated that she did not intend to call evidence from Mrs Kaur.

The legal advisor to the Committee advised Members and Mrs Mackenow that if Mrs Kaur chose not to give evidence then Members could draw an adverse inference from that. Mrs Mackenow requested a short adjournment to take instructions from her client and after returning indicated that Mrs Kaur would answer any questions that the representative of Cleveland Police or Members may have.

Mrs Nevison was given the opportunity to cross examine Mrs Kaur.

Members of the Committee asked questions of Mrs Kaur.

Each of the parties was given an opportunity to sum up with Mrs Kaur's representative making the final submission.

In considering their decision Members had regard to the evidence which had been presented to them. Members also had regard to the statutory guidance issued under Section 182 of the Licensing Act 2003 and the Council's Licensing Policy.

It was noted that the evidence put before Members was mainly based on under age sales of alcohol and therefore the Crime and Disorder objective and the Protection of Children from Harm licensing objectives were deemed to be relevant.

Members were concerned by the fact that the premise had an under-age sale when two sixteen year old males were sold alcohol. Members noted that the statutory guidance stated that "the purchase and consumption of alcohol by minors" was a criminal activity that was deemed to be particularly serious.

Members noted that Mrs Kaur was both the Premise Licence Holder and the Designated Premises Supervisor. Mrs Kaur had not provided to Members any due diligence in relation to the training she or her staff had received in relation to their legal responsibilities. Although Mrs Kaur stated that she operated a refusals register she had not provided a copy of this to Members. Members also noted that Mrs Kaur had not provided any statement in relation to the allegations made by Cleveland Police. Mrs Kaur had not provided any detailed rebuttal of the allegations. Although Mrs Kaur did agree to answer any questions that Members of the Committee had they found her evidence to be confusing and sometimes evasive.

Members were satisfied that there had been substantial failings in relation to the promotion of the licensing objectives. It was clear that the licensing objectives had been undermined by the premises licence holder. Mrs Kaur's defence in relation to the underage sales which were shown on the CCTV footage was that the youths had previously provided her with I.D. Members noted that Mrs Kaur and the shop assistant each denied the evidence contained in the Polices evidence that they had told the test purchasers that if they had said they were over 18 then they would have sold them alcohol. Taking into account the CCTV footage and the totality of evidence Members preferred the evidence of the Police Officer and found that Mrs Kaur had not been truthful in relation to her evidence.

Members found that on the balance of probabilities Mrs Kaur was responsible for selling alcohol to persons under age. Members found that Mrs Kaur was happy to sell alcohol to persons under the age of 18 and was operating in a manner which facilitated this. Contrary to the evidence given by Mrs Kaur, Members were satisfied that Mrs Kaur was failing to comply with her licence conditions and the CCTV evidence showed that she was not asking for I.D. from customers who appeared to be under age. Members found Mrs Kaur's evidence to be evasive and unreliable.

Members noted that the premises licence already had a number of detailed conditions and in the opinion of the Committee Members; Mrs Kaur was failing to adhere to these. Members were of the view that there were no other conditions that could be attached to the licence which would address the problem with the premise. As Mrs Kaur had shown little awareness of her responsibilities it was not deemed appropriate to deal with this review by the imposition of conditions.

Members felt that this was not a case where a period of suspension should be imposed as the problem with the premise lay with Mrs Kaur's management and her failure to comply with statutory requirements and responsibilities.

Members also gave consideration to whether Mrs Kaur should be removed as the DPS. Members had not been provided with any due diligence paperwork or procedures in the training of Mrs Kaur or her staff and in the view of Members the systems and procedures were sadly lacking. After considering all of the issues on this point Members felt that this was not a situation where the removal of the DPS would have a positive impact on the operation of the premise. Members noted in particular paragraph 11.21 of the Section 182 Statutory Guidance that "poor management was a direct reflection of poor company practice or policy and the mere removal of the Designated Premises Supervisor may be an inadequate response to the problems presented". Although Members were satisfied that the removal of Mrs Kaur as DPS was necessary they were extremely concerned that as she was both DPS and Premise Licence Holder her removal as DPS would not resolve the concerns over the operation of the premise. The responsibility for the failings at the premise was borne almost entirely by the premises licence holder who had failed to ensure that the licensing objectives were not undermined.

Members considered all of the evidence and the Statutory Guidance issued under Section 182 of the Licensing Act. The Guidance indicated that where the Committee were satisfied that the crime and disorder objective had been undermined they should consider revocation "even in the first instance".

Members were satisfied that the premise was undermining the crime and disorder objective and the protection of children from harm objective and resolved to remove Mrs Kaur as the DPS and revoke the premises licence. Members did not view this as a departure from the guidance but in any event even if it was deemed to be a departure from the guidance this was deemed both proportionate and necessary in the particular facts of this case.

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