Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

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

Date:
Thursday, 26th January, 2012
Time:
02.00 p.m.
Place:
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

Present:
Councillor Kirton, Councillor Large, Councillor McCall.
Officers:
S Mills(DNS), J Nertney(LDS)
In Attendance:
Cleveland Police - Sergeant Daley, PC Leek and PC Johnson in attendance (represented by Mr Currer, Barrister), Mr Kevin Manning, the Premise Licence Holder and Designated Premises Supervisor
was in attendance (represented by Mr Ross, Solicitor)
Apologies for absence:
None
Item Description Decision
Public
LSC
37/11
APPOINTMENT OF CHAIR
RESOLVED that Councillor Kirton be appointed Chair for this meeting only.
LSC
38/11
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
 
LSC
39/11
THE REINDEER, 3 RAMSGATE, STOCKTON ON TEES - APPLICATION FOR REVIEW OF A PREMISE LICENCE UNDER THE LICENSING ACT 2003
RESOLVED that the premise licence be revoked.

Preamble

ItemPreamble
LSC
38/11
There were no interests declared
LSC
39/11
A copy of the report and witness statements had been provided to all those persons present and to members of the Committee. The Committee noted that a witness statement had also been provided by Mr Manning. 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 and the First Contact centre who were in support of the Polices review application. Members noted that one letter had been received from a member of the public supporting Mr Manning and the premise.

Mr Currer on behalf of Cleveland Police stated that the Police had concerns over the running of the premise since 2010. Mr Currer outlined the Polices grounds for the review which included numerous intelligence reports detailing drug dealing at the premise and two incidents when different individuals had been arrested for possession of drugs at the premises. One of these incidents involved a male offering to supply drugs to two plain clothed Police officers. The premise had also been the scene of a violent assault when the injured party had part of his ear bitten off. The injured party in that incident was also Pubwatch barred and therefore should not have been in the premise. The premise had also been the subject of a test purchase operation in August 2011 when two sixteen year old males were sold 2 pints of lager by a member of staff.

Mr Currer then called PC Johnson to give evidence. PC Johnson detailed the incidents as outlined in his statement which had been circulated to all parties. The Committee were shown CCTV footage from the Police raid on the premises on 28 October 2011 and 12 November 2011. On each occasion it was pointed out that the person dealing the drugs stood in a blind spot on the CCTV camera system.

Following PC Johnson's evidence questions were asked by Mr Ross, the representative of the premise licence holder and members of the Committee.

When questioned PC Johnson accepted that the breaches of the licence conditions which were noted in the visit with representatives of the Home Office had now been rectified.

It was clarified that the Polices review application had made reference to Mr Manning been involved in the management of a separate premise in Stockton which had been subject to two reviews. It was noted that Mr Manning was at the premise when it had been the subject of one review and a further review had followed after Mr Manning left the premise.

A representative from Trading Standards was not in attendance but the Committee noted that they supported the Polices review application.

A representative from the First Contact centre was not in attendance but the Committee noted that they supported the Polices review application.

Mr Ross called Mr Manning to give evidence.

Mr Manning stated that in relation to the under age sale he was away on holiday at the time and had left a list of supervision instructions while he was away. Brian Hayes did serve the youths but when Mr Manning returned from holiday he sacked Mr Hayes. Mr Manning stated that he had previously passed test purchases.

Mr Manning stated that he was not aware that people were selling drugs in the premise. The Police had not advised him that they had received intelligence reports of drug sales at the premise. The male in question had started frequenting his premise in January 2011 after he was barred from another premise. Mr Manning stated that he instructed his staff to "keep an eye on him".

Mr Manning stated that he was previously attending the premise on a daily basis for between 5-6 hours per day. Since the review proceedings were commenced Mr Manning now works approximately 70 hours per week at the premise.

In relation to the serious assault on the Pubwatch barred victim Mr Manning stated that he was not working that night. A member of staff called Sheila was working and owing to the effect witnessing the assault had on her she ended her employment shortly after the incident.

Since the male was arrested in possession of drugs Mr Manning had improved his CCTV coverage at the premise.

Mr Manning stated that he was aware people came to the premise who had shoplifted and try and sell stolen goods. Mr Manning stated that when he was there he ejected people from the premise.

Mr Manning stated that he was happy for further conditions to be attached to his licence.

Mr Ross then called evidence from Julie Pickering who was the member of staff working on the night of 28 October when the premises was raided by the Police.

Mrs Pickering stated that she had worked at the premise for approximately 2 years. Mrs Pickering stated that she did not see anyone with bags of drugs on a table.

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

Mr Manning accepted that he had no written training procedures or records and only carried out oral training for his staff.

In considering their decision Members had regard to the evidence which had been presented to them. The 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 the Committee was mainly based on the Crime and Disorder objective. However the underage sale at the premise made the protection of Children from Harm licensing objective relevant.

The Committee were concerned by the fact that two sixteen year old males were sold alcohol at the premise. The Committee 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 but under the Guidance would on it's own possibly result in a short period of suspension.

It was clear to the Committee that the Premises Licence Holder had little or no due diligence in relation to the training of his staff and had 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. The only defence submitted by the premises licence holder was one of ignorance of the problems at his premise. Although the premise licence holder had offered a number of conditions to be attached to the licence he had not produced any evidence that he had been proactive in ensuring his staff were adequately trained. In most cases additional conditions would be welcomed and the suggested conditions were clearly good practice. However given that the Premises Licence Holder had shown little awareness of his responsibilities it was not deemed appropriate to deal with this review by the imposition of conditions.

The Committee felt that this was not a case where a period of suspension should be imposed because of the serious crime connected with the premise. There had been an extremely violent assault which resulted in an individual having part of his ear bitten off. Furthermore this individual should not have been present on the premises owing to been Pubwatch barred. Of most concern to the Committee was the evidence of drug dealing connected with the premise. It was clear that drug dealers were willing to supply drugs to members of the public who they did not know as evidenced by the incident when the two plain clothes officers had visited the premise on 12 November 2011.

The Committee also gave consideration to whether Mr Manning should be removed as the designated premise supervisor (DPS). The premise had little or no due diligence in training their staff and their systems and procedures were sadly lacking. After considering all of the issues on this point the Committee felt that this was not a situation where the removal of the DPS would have a positive impact on the operation of the premise. The Committee noted in particular paragraph 11.21 of the Section 182 Statutory Guidance that "poor management is 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". Given that Mr Manning was both DPS and Premise Licence Holder his removal as DPS would not resolve the extreme concerns over the operation of the premise. The responsibility for the failings at the premise was mainly borne by the premises licence holder who had failed to ensure that the licensing objectives were not undermined.

It was evident that Mr Ross as legal adviser to Mr Manning would have given robust advice as to what conditions should be offered during the review process. It was noted that Mr Ross stated that the conditions been offered were one's he was aware of that the Police had requested on another premise which he had represented. The Committee felt that Mr Manning as Premise Licence Holder and Designated Premises Supervisor did not appreciate the seriousness of the situation in which he found himself. The Committee did not feel that the conditions offered by Mr Manning addressed the issue of drug dealing at the premise.

The Committee considered all of the evidence and the Statutory Guidance issued under Section 182 of the Licensing Act. The statutory guidance indicated that certain criminal activity should be treated particularly seriously which included where the use of the premises was linked to the sale and distribution of Class A drugs. Although the evidence before the Committee concerned the supply of cannabis, i.e. not a Class A drug, it was the blatant nature of the drug dealing that caused concern. Evidence had been given by PC Johnson and CCTV shown which indicated that the male in question was not supplying drugs in a covert manner as he was arrested very soon after the Police entered the premise thus in the opinion of the Committee indicating that he did have drugs on the table as detailed by PC Johnson. Within two weeks of the drugs raid a new drug dealer had installed himself at the premise indicating, in the opinion of the Committee, either wilful neglect or lack of control at the premise to control this criminal activity.

The Guidance indicated that where the Committee were satisfied that the crime and disorder objective was been undermined they should consider revocation "even in the first instance".

The Committee did not view the revocation of the licence 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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