Romford off-licence cautioned for selling alcohol to children applies for longer opening hours
- Credit: Archant
A Romford off-licence that agreed to alter its licence after it was caught selling alcohol to a 14-year-old girl has surprised licensing officers by applying to open two hours earlier every morning.
During a Trading Standards exercise on April 27 this year, a licence holder at Premier Select and Save in Oldchurch Road sold alcohol to the minor as part of an underage test purchase exercise.
The shop had already, in March 2018, been found to have been involved in the unauthorised display of alcohol in a section of the shop which should have been for the sale of "sweets" according to plans submitted to Havering Council.
As a result, public protection officers met with the store's licence holders in July, and four further conditions to their operating licence were agreed.
All four were designed to aid the protection of children from harm.
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As new conditions were set to be added, the store's management was required to apply to vary its premises licence under the Licensing Act 2003.
That application was received by Havering Council on August 27 this year.
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But as well as the four new conditions agreed by Trading Standards, the shop was also applying to open at 6am instead of 8am.
This had not been mentioned at any point during conversations between store management, Trading Standards and Havering's licensing officers.
In its written objection, the borough's licensing team points out there is nothing improper or unlawful about the application, which has been made through the correct channels and in the right way.
But one licensing officer adds: "The concern we have is that the modification to the current licence was agreed as a part of an action plan formulated further to working with the licence holder.
"Alternative approaches could have involved reviewing the licence or prosecuting the licence holder for selling alcohol to a child.
"The agreement made between the licence holder, Trading Standards and the licensing authority was to add four conditions to the licence to address the protection of children from harm.
"This application was prompted by the licence holder's failure to protect children from harm.
"The addition of an extension to hours as a part of the same application suggests that the licence holder may be looking to achieve some form of 'gain' from the situation."
Havering's Trading Standards team also submitted a written objection along similar lines to that of the licensing team.
The borough's licensing sub-committee is due to decide on the application on October 21.