A rogue 3am off licence which has been caught selling smuggled booze, out of date food and serving underage customers has failed in a bid to get a new licence after its last one was revoked.
International Food and Wine lost its licence late last year after breaching every licence condition with nobody willing to admit they were in charge.
An appeal has been lodged against that decision, a court date for which should be set next week – and this week, new manager Baris Yukselen’s attempt to get another 3am licence was refused.
At a hearing on Friday, the licensing panel heard that since he claimed to have taken over in December, he had been caught breaching the licence more than once – perhaps unsurprisingly as he admitted he hadn’t read the licence application made in his name or been informed of the previous licence conditions.
The panel was also informed that an off licence he ran in Coombe Terrace on Lewes Road from 2013 to 2015 had been caught selling contraband alcohol and tobacco.
And police said they believed this new application was an attempt to get around the rules – with trading standards adding that they believed any improvements at the store were simply a temporary measure to get it approved.
In its ruling, the panel said: “The panel is concerned that notwithstanding his previous experience, Mr Yukselen admitted that he had had no awareness of the council’s licensing policy, had not been aware of the conditions imposed on the old premises licence when he took over, and had not seen the new application before it was submitted.
“Since Mr Yukselen became the DPS for the premises, there have been breaches of the licence conditions …. Taking into account the breaches of the licensing conditions referred to above, Mr Yukselen’s ignorance of/disregard for the licensing conditions attached to the premises licence and his lack of understanding of the licensing regime, the panel has no confidence in the applicant company’s ability to promote the licensing objectives. It shares the concerns of the Police, Licensing Authority and Trading Standards.
“The application is therefore refused.”
The first breach happened just a week after he took over, when police discovered the CCTV was not working. Then on 3 January, he told a council officer that staff weren’t properly trained and asked why children weren’t allowed in the shop by themselves after 7pm. He also admitted that a condition to have at least two members of staff on duty in the evenings was not adhered to.
At the hearing, the panel asked Mr Yukselen if he would be happy to be granted a licence which ended much earlier, but he made it clear that it was 3am or nothing.
Inspector Di Lewis wrote to the panel: “Sussex Police Licensing have visited after this … to conduct checks and have found the licence is still being breached. On 21 December, it was found that the CCTV was not operational and the shop plans did not reflect the layout of the store.
“Sussex Police believes this is an attempt to circumvent the appeal decision and licensing process and therefore invites the Licensing Authority to seriously consider refusing this application in its entirety.”
Trading Standards Manager Jo Player wrote: “It is the view of Trading Standards that controls and improvements there are only temporary due to the outstanding appeal of the panel’s decision of 1 December 2017.”
Mr Yukselen submitted his application on the same day previous premises licence holder Heydar Pashazade, who had claimed to have left messages on non-existent voicemails and passed on letters he said he hadn’t received, lodged an appeal at Brighton Magistrates Court.
At the hearing last year, the store’s legal representative said that Mr Pashazade had left the country for his wedding a week before he became the PLH, and blamed the bad management on his predecessor, Mustapha Donmez. The panel said it was clear he had been put on the licence as a convenient name.
A request to make Mustapha’s younger bother Muslum PLH was rejected because the panel heard he had given trading standards a false name under pressure from his brother, and they were not satisfied that the older brother could be excluded from the premises.
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