Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

Big plans, bright future

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

Date:
Monday, 13th February, 2012
Time:
10.00am
Place:
Council Chamber, Town Hall, High Street, Stockton, TS18 1AU
 
Please note: all Minutes are subject to approval at the next Meeting

Attendance Details

Present:
Councillor Kirton, Councillor Cunningham and Councillor Woodhead.
Officers:
J Nertney (LD); S Mills (DNS).
In Attendance:
Cleveland Police - Sergeant Daley and PC Iceton, (represented by Mr Burn, Barrister) and Mr Summers, representative of Punch Taverns the Premise Licence Holder was in attendance (represented by Mr Coen, Solicitor).
Apologies for absence:
None
Item Description Decision
Public
LSC
40/11
APPOINTMENT OF CHAIR
RESOLVED that Councillor Kirton be appointed Chair for this meeting only.
LSC
41/11
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
There were no interests declared.
LSC
42/11
APPLICATION FOR REVIEW OF A PREMISE LICENCE - THE MERLIN, MARSH HOUSE AVENUE.
RESOLVED that:-

• Mr Bridges be removed as the Designated Premises Supervisor; and

• The premises licence be suspended for a period of three weeks; and

• 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. (This will replace conditions 1, 2, 3 and 4 on the licence under "Prevention of Crime and Disorder");

2. Two (2) SIA Licensed Door staff will be employed at the premises, from 20.00 until closing each Friday and Saturday night and on any Sunday immediately preceding a Bank Holiday Monday.

3. 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.

4. Signage will be clearly displayed prominently at all the points of access, point of sale of alcohol and toilet areas in relation to the premises Age Verification Policy and Drug Policy.

5. No person under the age of 18 years will be allowed on the premises after 21.00 hours except for children of the Premises Licence Holder /DPS and other employed staff members.

6. 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.

7. All staff will be fully trained on a 4 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 4 months.

8. 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 4 months. All staff training records will be made available to the Licensing Authority and/or Responsible Authorities upon request.

9. The business will maintain a refusals book to record all instances where the sale of alcohol has been refused. This shall include the date and time of the attempted sale, together with a description of the incident. The Designated Premise Supervisor / Store Manager / Business Owner will check and sign each page and the refusals book will be made available to the Licensing Authority and/or Responsible Authorities upon request.

10. There will 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 age the age of 18 are committing an offence.

The conditions as attached mean that condition 6 on the licence under "Prevention Of Crime and Disorder" is replaced by condition 3 as detailed above and condition 2 on the premises licence under the heading "Protection Of Children From Harm" is altered in accordance with condition 5 as detailed above.
10.00 am - 1.00 pm

Preamble

ItemPreamble
LSC
42/11
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 Police's 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.

Mr Burn on behalf of Cleveland Police outlined the Police grounds for the review. Between 22 October 2010 and 13 December 2011 there had been three positive under age sales at the premise following test purchase visits. One of these had occurred following the premise been placed on an action plan in September 2011 as the Police had serious concerns over the management of the premise. An Operation Lumberjack drugs operation in July 2011 found three persons in possession of controlled drugs on the premises. There had also been a large number of fights at the premise. The Police were particularly concerned at the attitude of Mr Bridges who was not supportive of the Police concerns. Mr Bridges had been critical of the Police and had failed to attend meetings which had been arranged to discuss ongoing issues with the premise. The Police were of the view that Mr Bridges was undermining the licensing objectives by his management of the premise.

Mr Burn indicated that discussions had taken place with the Premise Licence Holder prior to the meeting and a course of action had been proposed that satisfied the Polices concerns over the premise. Mr Burn outlined the details of the proposal and invited Members to give a preliminary indication as to whether this was deemed acceptable or alternatively whether Members felt they needed to hear further representations on the evidence and issues.

Mr Burn stated that the Premises Licence Holder had indicated he was agreeable to attach conditions to the license subject to Members approval.

Members noted that Trading Standards had submitted a representation indicating that they supported the Police's application for a review of the premises licence and they had concerns over the positive under age test purchases that had taken place at the premise.

Mr Coen on behalf of the Premise Licence Holders confirmed that the position as outlined by the Police representative was correct and invited Members to endorse those matters. Mr Coen indicated that he would provide further submissions should Members indicate that they feel they need to hear further evidence or that the proposal to attach conditions to the license did not satisfy Members in relation to the licensing objectives.

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 underage sales at the premise made the protection of Children from Harm licensing objective relevant.

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 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 three weeks. 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.

In relation to the CCTV condition Members indicated that their intention was that the erection of CCTV cameras should 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.

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