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

Monday, 21st November, 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 Eileen Johnson, Cllr Paul Kirton and Cllr Bill Woodhead.
J Nertney (LD); P Edwards, J Allwood (DNS).
In Attendance:
Applicant: Cleveland Police - Sergeant Daley and PC Iceton in attendance (represented by Mr Hill, Barrister); Responsible Authorities: Trading Standards Respondent: Mr Cawood and Mrs Boyfield, representatives of Marston's Plc the Premise Licence Holder were in attendance (represented by Mrs Hazlewood, Solicitor). Also in attendance was Mr Brookes the Designated Premises Supervisor.
Apologies for absence:
Item Description Decision
RESOLVED that Councillor Kirton be appointed Chair for this meeting only.
There were no interests declared.

1. The Premise Licence be suspended for a one week period.

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

1. A digital closed circuit Television System (CCTV) must be installed and maintained in good working order and be correctly time and date stamped. The system must 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 and outside areas where the sale/supply or consumption of alcohol occurs such as smoking areas or outside drinking areas/beer garden. A minimum of 14 days recording is required. The system will record for 24 hours a day and the footage must be kept for a minimum of 31 days. The system must 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 must have the facility to be password protected to prevent unauthorised access, tampering, or deletion of images. There must 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. 24 hours routine or less if urgently required for investigation of serious crime. In the event of technical failure of the CCTV equipment the premise licence holder/DPS must report the failure to Police on contact number 01642 302360 immediately.

2. A personal licence holder shall be on duty at all times when the premises operate for licensable activities.

3. A Challenge 21 policy will be implemented with all staff insisting on evidence of age from any person appearing to be under 21 years of age and who is attempting to buy alcohol or other age restricted products. There shall be sufficient public notices displayed at the premises to inform customers and remind staff that the premise is operating a Challenge 21 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 18’s (proxy sales), persons appearing to be under the influence of alcohol and also the operation of the associated Challenge 21 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 / 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 enforcement agencies and/or Responsible Authorities upon request.

6. The business will maintain a system to record all instances where the sale of age restricted products have been refused. This shall include the date and time of the attempted sale, together with a description of the incident. Data on refusals shall be made available to enforcement agencies and/or Responsible Authorities upon request and in any event within 7 days.

7. There shall be adequate notices displayed on the premise indicating that the sale of alcohol to those under the age of 18 is illegal and that those adults who buy alcohol for immediate disposal to those under the age of 18 are committing an offence.

The conditions as attached mean that current Annex 2, Condition 3 and Annex 3, Condition 1 are now redundant and shall be removed from the licence.
10.00 am - 12.00 noon.


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. Members noted that this review of a 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 additional documentation in response to the Polices review application had been circulated prior to the hearing by the premise licence holders representative. The documentation submitted on behalf of the premise licence holder included Marston's staff handbook, Personal Training File of Danielle Shepherd, EPOS Refusals Data, Proposed Additional Conditions, Operational Changes Arising, Internal Systems Relating to Supervision of Site, ABV Training Documentation, External Training Details and Extracts from Noise Assessment Log.

Mr Hill on behalf of Cleveland Police outlined the Police grounds for the review which included two positive underage sale at the premise and some relatively minor breaches of licence conditions. The two under age sales had taken place on 17 March 2011 when 2 bottles of Budweiser had been sold to a 15 and 16 year old male volunteers and on 31 August 2011 when two pints of lager had been sold to two 16 year old male volunteers. On each sale a different member of bar staff had been responsible.

Mr Hill called evidence from PC Iceton. PC Iceton stated that the test purchase operation had been undertaken following intelligence that under age drinking was occurring in the premise. PC Iceton stated that the most recent visit to the premises took place on 19 November 2011 when the licence breaches had been remedied save for the fact that Mr Brookes, the current DPS, was unable to properly work the CCTV system. The Police still had concerns over the amount of CCTV cameras in the premise and asked Members to consider conditions addressing this.

Following PC Iceton's evidence questions were asked by the representative of the premise licence holder and Members.

Miss Alwood informed Members that Trading Standards supported the Police's application for a review of the premises licence and that they also had concerns that a premise had two positive under age test purchases.

Miss Alwood stated that she had discussed the issues with Mrs Hazlewood who represented the Premise Licence Holder. Miss Allwood stated that she had discussed the possibility of the premise implementing a Challenge 25 policy and that training for members of staff should be held quarterly. Mrs Hazlewood had stated that the premise licence holder would have some practical difficulty in implementing a Challenge 25 policy owing to the branding on their staff uniforms.

The representative of the premise licence holder and Members were given the opportunity to ask questions of Miss Allwood.

Mrs Hazlewood on behalf of the premises licence holder stated that Marston's had taken this extremely seriously and the premise had been subject to scrutiny within the company. The company do not like underage sales and to have two in a relatively short period of time was a cause for concern.

The first sale led to an investigation by Mr Cawood, the area manager. Mr Cawood spoke to the DPS at that time and felt he was not fully in control of the premise and they were demoted. At that time a new DPS called Miss Ryan was brought in. The second under age sale then took place and Miss Ryan resigned her post.

The conclusion reached by Marston's about the premise was that their training although fit for purpose had not been engaged fully by the staff. Marston's appreciated that they needed to look at changing the culture of the staff at the premise. A more detailed training programme was implemented and external training was also brought in to complement the existing training.

Following the second under age sale and the resignation of Miss Ryan a new DPS, Mr Brookes, was brought into the premise. Mr Brookes had many years experience in the licensed trade and had worked in both Manchester and York.

Marston's were happy to comply with the suggestion made by Miss Allwood from Trading Standards that training be undertaken quarterly at the premise and they proposed this would be done by the DPS. Since Mr Brookes had been made DPS the premises had gone through a revolution.

Marston's brought in external trainers on 14 November 2011 and all staff had been retrained with practical sessions and a level of examination.

Although the premise would have some practical difficulties in introducing a Challenge 25 policy they had advised staff that Challenge 25 should be used operationally albeit the outward facing policy remained Challenge 21.

As Marston's wanted to ensure their training was working they engaged ABV to undertake their own test purchase and on 3 and 5 November 2011 an 18 year old female attended the premise and was challenged for ID on both occasions.

The EPOS till prompt system had been reprogrammed so that staff had to make a conscious decision to think about challenge when serving customers. There were now daily sign in shifts for staff members to sign.

Mrs Hazlewood acknowledged that the premise licence holder can have all the systems in the world but if they aren’t checked to ensure they were working then what was their value. The area manager now attended site on both pre arranged and ad hoc visits and his reports got to the regional manager.

Mrs Hazlewood invited Mr Cawood and Mrs Boyfield to give an overview of their role and involvement in ensuring the premise operated correctly and that problems would not reoccur in future.

The representatives of the premise licence holder were asked questions by the Polices representative and Members.

All parties were given an opportunity to sum up with the premise licence holders representative having 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 the Crime and Disorder objective. However the two underage sales at the premise made the protection of Children from Harm licensing objective relevant.

Members were concerned by the fact that the premise had two under age sales but noted that the current DPS had not been in post at the premises when the sales had taken place. Members were therefore of the view that it was not necessary to remove the current DPS.

Of most concern to Members was that each of the under age sales had been made by separate members of staff. In the view of Members this indicated that there was an issue with the training regime carried out by Marston's. Members noted that Marston's placed the blame on the failure of their training with the fact that management had not ensured that staff were engaged with the training and were actually following it through. Responsibility for ensuring training was sufficient rested with the premise licence holder. It was arguable that prior to the under age sales they should have been taking steps to ensure that their training was been correctly implemented and that there was engagement by members of staff. There was an element of ‘closing the stable door after the horse had bolted’. If the premise licence holders training regime had failed in some way then they needed to address that to ensure it did not happen in the future. It was noted that the premise licence holder had acted diligently and responsibly in the action they had taken to address the issues at the premise. The Premise Licence Holder had addressed the issues at the premise but if further under age sales occurred in future this could indicate that there was an inherent flaw in the training regime or that this particular premise was the problem and that the premise licence holder was failing in their duty. The Premise Licence Holder should be in doubt that further positive test purchases at the premise would be highly likely to result in the revocation of the licence.

Members felt that a period of suspension was appropriate because of the seriousness of under age sales. A period of suspension should also be imposed which would act as both a deterrent and a punishment for the premise licence holder. Members had regard to both the guidance under Section 182 of the Licensing Act and relevant case law including R (Bassetlaw District Council) v Worksop Magistrates Court [2008] WLR (D) 50. It was noted that the respondents in the Bassetlaw case had been unrepresented and had not attended the proceedings and as such Members were mindful that the case was persuasive and not binding in law.

Members noted that the statutory guidance states that “the purchase and consumption of alcohol by minors” was a criminal activity that was deemed to be particularly serious. Members noted that the test purchases at the premise had come about as a result of intelligence that the premise did have an issue with sales of alcohol to persons under the age of 18. Members noted that the statutory guidance made the reference to the fact that “for instance, a licence could be suspended for a weekend as a means of deterring the licence holder from allowing the problems that gave rise to the review to happen again”. The guidance did not state what particular issues suspension for a weekend would be an appropriate response. Members noted that the Act allowed for suspension for a period of up to three months. In this case and given that the guidance views sale of alcohol to minors as serious Members were of the view that the licence should be suspended for one week. 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.

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. It was however noted that there had been some minor disagreement between the parties as to the wording of the conditions and Members took a view based on the evidence as to which conditions should be attached to the licence.

In relation to the CCTV condition Members noted that the wording in relation to “outside areas” was not sufficiently precise as it could be argued that the CCTV had to cover all areas of the car
park which was not necessary in this instance. The intention of the Committee was for the CCTV condition to cover areas where sale, supply and consumption of alcohol would take place and that this could reasonably encompass outside areas such as the smoking area or any external drinking area/ beer garden. Members were of the view that cameras should have facial recognition and should cover all ingress and egress points in the premise.

Members were satisfied that a Challenge 21 policy was sufficient at this time albeit they noted that the premise licence holder was requesting staff members to operate a Challenge 25 policy in practice. Members hoped that the premise licence holder would continue with his commitment to the Challenge 25 policy as this should ensure that under age sales do not occur in future.

Although in instances such as this the Committee would normally attach a condition requiring a refusals book it was noted that the EPOS system served this purpose and that to require members of staff to also enter refusals in a book would be both unnecessary and cumbersome. However Members felt that it was necessary to refer to the premises having a system that recorded refusals i.e. the EPOS system and that such figures/data should be provided to the Police and responsible authorities on request and in any event within seven days.

Members therefore agreed to suspend the premises licence for a period of one week and attach the below conditions to the licence.

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