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

Friday, 7th October, 2011
10.00 a.m.
Council Chamber, Town Hall, High Street, Stockton on Tees, TS18 1AJ
Please note: all Minutes are subject to approval at the next Meeting

Attendance Details

Cllr Phillip Dennis, Cllr Paul Kirton and Cllr Miss Tina Large.
S Mills (DNS); J Douglas (LD).
In Attendance:
Cleveland Police - PC Johnson in attendance (represented by Mr Hill, Barrister); Respondent: Mr Black, Manager for the Spirit Group, Premises Licence Holder and Richard Whiteley, Designated Premises Supervisor (represented by Mr Phipps of TLT Solicitors).
Apologies for absence:
Item Description Decision
RESOLVED that Councillor Kirton be appointed Chair for this meeting only.
There were no interests declared.

1. The premises licence be suspended for a period of two weeks.

2. The following conditions be attached to the licence:-

1. A digital Closed Circuit Television System (CCTV) will be installed and maintained in good working order and be correctly time and date stamped. The system will incorporate sufficient built-in hard-drive capacity to suit the number of cameras installed, whilst complying with Data Protection legislation. CCTV will be capable of providing pictures of evidential quality in all lighting conditions, particularly facial recognition. Cameras will encompass all ingress and egress to the premises, outside areas and all areas where the sale/supply of alcohol occurs. There will be a minimum of 14 days recording. The system will record for 24 hours a day. The system will incorporate a means of transferring images from the hard-drive to a format that can be played back on any desktop computer. The Digital recorder will have the facility to be password protected to prevent unauthorised access, tampering, or deletion of images. There will be at all times a member of staff on duty who is trained in the use of the equipment and upon receipt of a request for footage from a governing body, such as Cleveland Police or any other Responsible Authority, be able to produce the footage within a reasonable time, e.g. 24hrs routine or immediately if urgently required for investigation of serious crime. In the event of a technical failure of the CCTV equipment the premises licence holder/DPS must report the failure to Police on contact number 01642 302360 immediately.

2. An incident book will be kept and maintained on the premises at all times. The book will detail in brief, incident of injury/ejection/refusals/drug misuse/seizure/age challenge. Such matters shall be timed, dated and signed by the author and produced to Police/Authorised Licensing Officers on demand.

3. A 'Challenge 25' policy will be implemented with all staff insisting on evidence of age from any person appearing to be under 25 years of age and who is attempting to buy alcohol. There shall be notices displayed at all points of sale and at all entrances and exits to inform customers and remind staff that the premise is operating a 'Challenge 25' policy.

4. All staff will be fully trained and retrained on a 3 monthly basis in relation to the laws relating to the sale of alcohol to underage persons, persons buying on behalf of under 18s (proxy sales) , persons appearing to be under the influence of alcohol and also the operation of the associated ‘Challenge 25’ policy. Staff will receive refresher training at least every 3 months.

5. Training records, signed by both the staff member and the Designated Premise Supervisor/Store Manager/Business Owner will be retained for future reference and shall be updated at least every 3 months. All staff training records will be made available to the Licensing Authority and/or Responsible Authorities upon request .

6. All permanent-full time staff shall possess an accredited National Certificate for Personal Licence Holders Practitioners within 3 months of the date of the decision letter.
10.00 am - 1.00 pm


The Chair introduced all persons present and explained the procedure that would be followed.

A copy of the report and witness statements had been provided to all those persons present and to Members of the Sub Committee. Members noted that this review of a premises licence was made at the request of Cleveland Police. A representation supporting the Police's application had been received.

Mr Hill on behalf of Cleveland Police outlined the Police grounds for the review which were based on the fact that the premise had two positive underage sales.

Mr Hill called evidence from PC Johnson who detailed the two underage sales and police concerns.

Questions were asked by the representative of the premise licence holder and members of the Sub Committee.

In response to questions PC Johnson confirmed that there had been a further test purchase involving Mr Whiteley which had been negative. The Police had also viewed staff training records.

Members noted that Trading Standards had made a representation supporting the Polices application for a review of the premises.

Mr Phipps, on behalf of the Spirit Group and DPS, confirmed that they were very sorry to come before the Sub Committee in respect of these matters.

The Spirit Group was a national company with several hundred premises and which recognises that compliance with licence conditions was very important. Spirit operated a national e learning training programme for its staff which was supplemented by “on the job” learning and training together with backroom training. Updates and briefing notes were also provided.

The Union Arms had 11 members of staff. In addition to the Company training, the premises held weekly team meetings and team briefings.

Challenge 21 was operated nationally including at the Union Arms.

Both members of staff involved in the positive test purchases had undertaken training. It was accepted that the staff member involved in the second test purchase had a penalty notice for a previous under age sale with a previous employer which the Company's HR procedures had not identified. This was being looked at nationally by the Company. Both members of staff had been disciplined but had not been dismissed.

Mr Phipps outlined other preventative measures including:-
• Posters promoting Challenge 21;
• Proof of age and Challenge 21 staff training;
• Team meetings and agenda items;
• Id refusal button on till;
• Refusal register;
• Pubwatch.

Mr Phipps also confirmed that they would remedy the concerns outlined in the Police's letter of 29th July 2011.

Mr Phipps referred the Sub Committee to the Police's application for review which stated that “The area in which the premises is situated suffers from alcohol related crime and disorder although the premises itself has not caused Cleveland Police any concerns apart from the two sales….”

On behalf of the Spirit Group Mr Phipps outlined further conditions that could be placed on the licence to address any concerns that the Sub Committee may have.

The Polices' representative and Members were given an opportunity to ask questions.

All parties were given an opportunity to sum up with Mr Phipps as the premises licence holders representative having the final submission.

In considering their decision Members had regard to the evidence which had been presented to them. The Sub Committee 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 the Crime and Disorder objective. Given the two underage sales at the premise the protection of Children from Harm licensing objectives was also relevant.

Members were concerned by the fact that the premise had two under age sales.

Members noted that the staff who were responsible for the under age sales had been subject to the Company's disciplinary process but had not been dismissed. Members noted that this was the first time that this premise had been before the Licensing Sub Committee. Members therefore felt the revocation of the licence would be a step too far and perhaps too draconian in this instance. However the Premises Licence Holder should be in no doubt that further positive test purchases would be highly likely to result in the revocation of the licence.

Members also noted that Mr Whiteley had been the subject of a negative test purchase. In the circumstances Members did not consider that there should be any action against Mr Whiteley as the DPS.

Members felt that a short period of suspension indicated the seriousness of a premise allowing under age sales and would act by way of a deterrent for this premises and other operators in the Borough. Members noted that the Act allowed for suspension for a period of up to three months. In considering all of the evidence Members deemed a period of two weeks to be a fair and proportionate period of suspension.

Members noted that the Premises Licence Holder had confirmed that he was willing to attach a number of conditions to the Licence which would assist in improving standards at the premise.

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