A pizza shop owner has fired a member of staff suspected of taking drugs at work in a bid to keep its alcohol licence.
My Yummie Pizza in Longridge Avenue, Saltdean, could have its licence stripped after drug swabs found “bulk” amounts of cocaine on surfaces in the customers toilets.
On Friday, owner Khaled Mohamed, 53, told a panel of three Brighton and Hove City councillors he has also removed all flat surfaces from the toilets.
Sussex Police carried out the drug swabs on Thursday 9 September, after receiving “intelligence” about drug use at the business.
Five of the eight swabs indicated “bulk” amounts of cocaine on surfaces, including two toilet seats and on a cistern, shelf and sink in the premises’ customer toilets.
The till screen also showed traces of cocaine, as did other parts of the premises.
Police did not carry out tests in the kitchen or staff toilets.
During the licensing review hearing on Friday, 10 December, Labour councillor Carmen Appich asked if the trace elements were signs of people using the drug and was told the tests can show historic use or even cross-contamination from money.
Sussex Police licensing officer Hannah Staplehurst said the shop closes to walk-in customers at 11pm but had a licence for late-night delivery until midnight Sunday to Thursday and until 1am on Friday and Saturdays.
Other breaches discovered this year found problems with the CCTV, with poor quality footage which did not record for 31 days as required by its licence.
During the check on 9 September, police found the outdoor camera was not working, and an internal camera had a “glitch”.
The shop’s incident book was found in the envelope the council had posted it to them in, and did not include details of a fight a week earlier.
The fight is still under investigation but Mr Mohamed said he did not record it as it was between his son and a former member of staff.
There was no Security Industry Association risk assessment or signs asking customers to leave quietly, and part B of the business’s licence was not on display.
Ms Staplehurst said: “Within 15 months of holding a late-night refreshment premises licence, My Yummie Pizza has experienced a high number of issues including a serious incident, crime and anti-social behaviour, condition breaches and high drugs readings.
“We do not feel that any additional conditions are going to assist at this venue, and the only option in our opinion is to revoke this premises licence.”
Licensing officer Donna Lynsdale said neighbours have complained about noise from the business in the early hours of the morning from customers and delivery drivers.
Due to the multiple breaches of the licence, Ms Lynsdale said she had “no confidence” in either Mr Mohamed or anyone else involved with running the premises.
She said: “Despite the issues being brought to Mr Mohamed’s attention, there has been no attempt to comply with these premises licence conditions.
“It is my opinion that the premises are poorly run. There are breaches of the premises licence, and the license objectives have not been upheld.”
Mr Mohamed said there had been a breakdown in communication due to his own anxiety at getting in touch with the police and licensing department to address the various issues over the last year.
He said he finds it difficult to deal with email communication.
Mr Mohamed said: “I put my hands up for everything that has gone wrong. I can see licensing, and the police are not very happy with me about what from my side is a communication matter.
“I will try to put things back in order and get these guys to trust me again. You tell me what to do, and I will follow up any procedure you want to take.”
He said he would close the front of the shop at 9pm if necessary.
The licensing panel said that it would make its decision public within five working days.