Sutton Bridge off-licence faces hearing

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AN off-licence in Sutton Bridge has had its licence put under review after police and trading standards conducted a secret camera “sting” in which children were sold alcohol and tobacco.

The man who conducted the sale on behalf of Bargain Booze, in Bridge Road, turned out to be a foreign national who was later detained by the UK Border Agency because he had no right to work in this country.

According to police, the man has since been deported.

Four under-age volunteers, three 15-year-olds and a 16-year-old, went in to the shop on September 17 and one wore a secret camera and sound recorder which officials outside monitored as the teenagers bought cider, lager and cigarettes.

Avtar Singh – the man who has been deported – took the cash and gave change and a second assistant packed the items into a carrier bag.

A premises review licence will be heard by a panel of the committee of the licensing authority at 10am tomorrow in the council chamber at South Holland District Council.

Police are asking the panel to give “serious consideration” to revoking the shop’s licence.

The licence holder at the shop is Gurjit Sangha.

A statement to the panel, made on behalf of the chief constable, says: “The sale of alcohol at these premises to persons under the legal age limit has seriously undermined the licensing objectives for the prevention of crime and disorder and the protection of children from harm.”

The statement says the management at the premises undermines the licensing objectives for public safety, the prevention of crime and disorder, the protection of children from harm and the prevention of public nuisance.

Police evidence presented to the panel refers to a series of public order incidents at a takeaway on the same street and are linking those to under-age drinkers obtaining alcohol from Bargain Booze.

It also says police first became aware of problems in June this year and at that time wrote to the licence operator offering him the opportunity to make good any shortcomings in the way the business was run – as well as reminding him of responsibilities under the licensing act.

Trading standards officer Emma Milligan was present at the sting. Part of her witness statement to the panel says: “The sale took place without any of their ages being challenged or identification being requested.” She says all the volunteers looked their ages.

The pre-hearing papers do not include statements from Bargain Booze.