Elsenham shop loses alcohol licence

A SHOP in Elsenham has had its licence suspended for three months after repeatedly selling alcohol to underage customers. The One Stop shop failed three test purchases in nine months, leading to Uttlesford District Council s licensing committee imposing t

A SHOP in Elsenham has had its licence suspended for three months after repeatedly selling alcohol to underage customers.

The One Stop shop failed three test purchases in nine months, leading to Uttlesford District Council's licensing committee imposing the maximum length of suspension it could. This latest three-month suspension comes after the committee suspended the licence twice last year.

The first review of the shop's licence was made in April 2009, following a sale made to an underage test purchaser in January.

When the licensing committee carried out its initial hearing, it allowed the shop to retain its licence but imposed a number of conditions that had to be adhered to.


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These included:

* A digital CCTV system had to record all transactions

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* Two members of staff had to be present at all times between 6pm and close

* All refusals of sale of alcohol had to be recorded in a register

* Before selling any alcohol, staff had to be trained in use of the CCTV, in dealing with incidents and prevention of crime and disorder, and in the responsible sale of alcohol

* The Challenge 25 scheme had to be implemented, meaning anyone appearing under 25 had to provide a valid form of age identification before being sold alcohol

Despite the strictness of these conditions, a second sale to an underage test customer was made on June 20, when a trading standards officer returned to the shop.

This led to a second licence review in August 2009, this time resulting in a one-month suspension of the One Stop's licence.

The shop had to satisfy further conditions before it could sell alcohol again: during opening hours a trained CCTV operative had always to be present and at least two people had to be on the shop floor, one of whom must hold a personal licence or have a BIIAB Level One Award in Responsible Alcohol Retailing or equivalent.

The third test purchase was carried out on November 21 last year, when a 15-year-old boy successfully attempted to buy a bottle of lager despite not having any ID.

Following each of the three test purchases, the member of staff who made the sale was issued with an �80 fixed penalty notice.

As well as ordering the three-month suspension, the licensing committee also imposed additional, even stricter conditions under which the shop must operate when it resumes the sale of alcohol.

Every customer buying alcohol will be required to provide proof of age; signs must clearly communicate this fact both inside and outside the shop; and the tills must be configured in such a way as to prevent an alcohol sale taking place until valid identification is inputted.

Chairman of the licensing committee, Cllr Hicks, said: "It was a difficult decision and the committee came close to revoking the licence completely. If the company was to fail a further test purchase after the suspension period ends it is difficult to see what the committee could do other than revoke the licence.

"The committee feels that appropriate conditions should be effective in dealing with the cause and that the conditions it proposes to impose are a necessary and proportionate response to the concerns.

"The sale of alcohol to minors in Uttlesford is something that will absolutely not be tolerated and Uttlesford District Council as the licensing authority gives its full support to Essex Police to help prevent it.

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