A family business has had its drinks licence suspended for a month after twice being caught selling alcohol to under-age customers.
Wild Park Local, in Barcombe Road, Brighton, faced losing its licence altogether at a Brighton and Hove City Council review hearing.
But the licensing panel, made up of three councillors, said that the one-month suspension was “proportionate” because the business had a good record stretching back 30 years and had agreed to “robust” staff training.
The business said that it had installed an automatic alert system on the till to prompt staff to ask drinks customers for proof of age if they appeared to be under 25.
Separately, at Brighton Magistrates’ Court last Thursday (10 March), Kalyani Patel, 67, of Barcombe Road, pleaded guilty to selling alcohol to a 16-year-old on Thursday 9 December.
District Judge Tessa Szagun fined her £300, with £85 costs and a victim surcharge of £34, making £419 in total.
Shop manager Kinchet Patel told the licensing panel hearing two weeks ago, Wednesday 2 March, that his 67-year-old mother had spent more time than usual working in the shop and “struggled”.
He said: “We have never had any police problems in the past and we have had the store for 30 years, since 1992.
“Mum’s been in the store a lot recently. With covid, business hasn’t been that great. But at the same time, she’s not in the best health and she does struggle.
“I’m not saying this as an excuse. What is done is done. We are trying to stop these mistakes happening again.
“This is our livelihood. We don’t want to be failing the test any time soon. We want to be here for longer and want to do anything else we possibly can.”
The panel – made up of councillors Lizzie Deane, Carmen Appich and Dee Simson – said: “The action the panel takes must be proportionate.
“And the panel considers that revocation is not appropriate at this stage as some co-operation and willingness to improve has been shown.
“However, due to the serious nature of this case, the panel considers that a period of suspension of the licence is appropriate.
“The panel deems a one-month suspension is necessary in order to give the licence holder and DPS (designated premises supervisor) time in which to put measures in place and in particular to ensure that all staff have received robust training regarding under-age sales and generally.”
The panel also recommended that the designated premises supervisor should exercise their day-to-day responsibility for running the premises.
It was noted, though, that Mr Patel could not obtain a personal licence and become the designated premises supervisor because of a previous conviction.