Brighton shop can keep drinks licence despite sales to under-18s

A convenience store has been allowed to continue selling alcohol despite failing two under-age test purchases within a few months.

The Nisa shop, in The Highway, Moulsecoomb, has promised extra training for staff and a change of management.

Sussex Police asked a Brighton and Hove City Council licensing panel to suspend the licence after under-18s were able to buy drink in August and December last year.

The owners, the Patel family trading as ASPS (Brighton) Ltd, promised extra vigilance.

They won over a panel made up of three councillors – Jackie O’Quinn, Dee Simson and Theresa Fowler – who gave the store a reprieve subject to a number of conditions.

The panel asked for a new licence holder so that there would be a “reset”, effectively giving the shop a fresh start.

The panel also suggested that Minkit Patel, who represented ASPS (Brighton) at the panel hearing at Hove Town Hall in March, would make a good “designated premises supervisor” (DPS).

Mr Patel told the panel that the two under-age sales last year were the first problems at the store in 20 years.

After the first failed test the owners changed the licence conditions to remove higher-strength beers and cider, to include better security cameras and to bring in a “Challenge 25” policy.

A new member of staff made the second sale after the till did not prompt her to ask for ID. As a non-drinker, she was not familiar with the brand – Amstel beer – which she sold.

Officers also found Lambrini White, a high-alcohol perry, on sale even though the shop had signed up to the council and police’s “sensible on strength” policy after the first failed test.

Since the second test, all 10 members of staff have received British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) training and qualifications, with regular refresher sessions.

The business has also signed up to have eight test sales organised by a private company over two years.

In its decision notice, the panel said: “The panel considers that taking no action for two failed test purchases in under four months would not promote the licensing objectives.

“In terms of modification of conditions, we agree with the premises licence holder’s representative that more robust conditions would assist in addressing the concerns raised.

“In terms of removal of the DPS, we consider that removal of the current one would support the ‘reset’ for the premises sought by the police.

“While we cannot insist upon Minkit Patel becoming the new DPS, we feel that he is well qualified to take on the role on account of his familiarity with the operation of the premises.”

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