Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

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

Date:
Tuesday, 3rd April, 2012
Time:
10.00 a.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:
Cllr Phillip Dennis, Cllr Paul Kirton and Cllr Ray McCall.
Officers:
C Barnes, L Wilford, A Gledhill (DNS); J Nertney (LD).
In Attendance:
Mr Mahfooz Hussain (in attendance and represented by Mr Harvard, Solicitor) Mr Ali Imran the proposed Designated Premises Supervisor.
Apologies for absence:
None.
Item Description Decision
Public
LSC
49/11
APPOINTMENT OF CHAIR
RESOLVED that Councillor Paul Kirton be appointed Chair for this meeting only.
LSC
50/11
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
There were no interests declared.
LSC
51/11
USMANS FOOD STORE, 53 YARM LANE, STOCKTON ON TEES - APPLICATION FOR GRANT OF A PREMISE LICENCE UNDER THE LICENSING ACT 2003
RESOLVED that the application for the premises licence be refused.
10.00 am - 12.00 noon

Preamble

ItemPreamble
LSC
51/11
Members gave consideration to the report, the application and the representation which had been received. A representation had initially been submitted by Cleveland Police but this was withdrawn after the applicant agreed to a number of conditions to be attached to the licence if granted. Environmental Health had also initially submitted a representation but this was withdrawn after the applicant agreed to amend his operating schedule removing the application for late night refreshment.

Mr Harvard on behalf of the applicant stated that his client had operated the premise as a general dealer for 3 years. At the present time there was a planning restriction which restricted the hours of operation at the premise from 08:00 to 23:30 hours. Mr Harvard stated that the applicant had inadvertently been operating outside of the planning restriction as when he purchased the property he was not represented by a solicitor and was therefore unaware of the planning restriction. Mr Harvard stated that an application to vary the planning restriction had been lodged with the planning department and this was following the statutory process.

Mr Harvard acknowledged that there had been convictions relating to under age sales of tobacco from the premise but that without that history this would be a straightforward application.

Mr Harvard stated that conditions had been agreed with the Police which would be attached to the premises licence should the application be granted. The applicant had already introduced a Challenge 25 policy at the premise. The additional conditions such as installation of upgraded CCTV, till prompt system and roll down shutters to cover the alcohol would be implemented should the licence be granted. The premise would implement a system of marking alcoholic products by using a price gun with the name of the premise. The applicant would agree that the licence would not become operative until all of the conditions have been implemented.

Mr Harvard stated that there had been two prosecutions for under age sales of tobacco products. However there was more positive news as on 11 January 2012 Mr Faisal Hussain, a member of staff refused a sale to an under age test purchaser.

After the retail guidance pack had been delivered to Mr Hussain it did appear that he did not introduce a refusals register or put training into place. Mr Harvard stated that the premise had introduced a Challenge 25 policy and a poster was displayed although there was still a Challenge 21 poster on display which could cause confusion and Mr Harvard had advised that this be removed. Mr Hussain now had a refusals book at the premise and Mr Harvard had sight of this although it appeared that staff members may be overzealous as some of the refusals related to cigarette papers.

Mr Harvard stated that Mr Hussain had done what had been asked of him albeit rather sluggishly. Mr Harvard had advised Mr Hussain that his livelihood depended on him observing the licence conditions should the licence be granted.

Mr Harvard referred to the submission of Trading Standards and the visit to the premises by Mrs Gledhill on 6th February 2012 when the member of staff on duty informed her that he did not know what training he had received. Mr Harvard stated that the explanation for this was that staff did not often recognise the advice and guidance they receive as formal training. Mr Hussain had a light touch attitude to training. Mr Harvard submitted that the failings at the premise had been addressed.

Mr Harvard introduced Mr Imran to Members and stated that Mr Imran would be the Designated Premises Supervisor of the licence. Mr Imran was well aware that he must not sell alcohol to those underage.

The Trading Standards officers were given an opportunity to ask questions of Mr Hussain. The Officers questioned Mr Hussain on the refusals register he uses at the premise, a copy of which he had introduced in his evidence. Mr Hussain was questioned on his knowledge of the planning restriction as from dates of some refusals he appeared to be operating his premise even though Mr Harvard had made him aware of the planning restriction. Mr Harvard stated that he had received an e-mail from Mr Jardine in the planning department on or around 24 January 2012, he had copied this to Mr Hussain and also had a telephone conversation with Mr Hussain about the issue. The Trading Standards officers also had regard to a training record which Mr Hussain stated he had introduced at the premise. The Trading Standards Officers questioned why his staff would be unaware of training if Mr Hussain allegedly kept a record of such training. The Trading Standards Officers also pointed out that the training record allegedly appeared to be out of order when it had been completed in the book produced by Mr Hussain.

The Trading Standards Section had submitted a representation as they had concerns that the licensing objectives would be undermined if the licence is granted. Trading Standards stated that their objection was based on the fact that they had serious concerns as Mr Hussains premise had been the subject of two prosecutions and one caution in relation to under aged sales of tobacco products. The assurances they had heard from Mr Hussain had been given before and Trading Standards had little faith in them and in any event it was too little too late.

Each of the parties was given an opportunity to sum up with the applicants representative having the final submission.

Members noted that the application before them was for a premises licence to authorise the supply of alcohol for the following hours:-

• Monday to Sunday: from 08:00 to 23:00 hours

Members were of the view that although the suggested conditions would be appropriate in most premises they did not override the concerns they had over the applicant. The applicants evidence had been both confusing and in the view of Members evasive. The documentary evidence produced by the applicant had only allegedly been introduced during the application process. In any event Members had concerns over the reliability of this documentary evidence as there were a number of questions over the use of staff training and the use of the refusals register. It was clear to Members that the applicants understanding of his legal obligations left a lot to be desired. Members had no faith in the applicants ability or understanding of his obligations under the licensing objectives. Members were satisfied from the evidence given by Trading Standards officers and from the applicants own evidence that the licensing objectives would be undermined if the application was granted.

Members noted that the applicant had shown either a negligent or wilful disregard for his legal responsibilities in operating the premise in relation to the sale of age restricted products. Evidence before Members indicated that the premise had operated for some considerable time in breach of a planning restriction. It appeared that this had still continued even after the applicants legal representative had made his client aware of the restriction. Members therefore concluded that the applicant was happy to put profit above his legal obligations.

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