Court upholds store’s ban on sale of alcohol at Boston store

European Food, Wide Bargate, Boston. EMN-181202-095413001
European Food, Wide Bargate, Boston. EMN-181202-095413001

Magistrates have upheld a Boston Borough Council decision to ban sales of alcohol from a town store.

The council’s licensing sub-committee revoked the premises licence for the sale of alcohol at European Food, 43 Wide Bargate, in February after it was found to have sold cider to 16-year-olds.

On Monday, Boston Magistrates dismissed an appeal on the grounds that the licence holder, who is also the designated premises supervisor, and management failed to implement the Challenge 25 condition and had sold alcohol to under 18s.

Additionally, they failed to satisfactorily supervise and train staff and there was an inadequate understanding of the licensing objectives.

This original decision now takes immediate effect.

The court also awarded full costs of £1,076.69.

The magistrates determined that the council’s decision to revoke the licence was right at the time and is still right, and the council was correct to treat seriously the failure to promote the licensing objectives of prevention of crime and disorder and protection of children from harm.

The original review of the premises’ licence was requested by Lincolnshire Police and the three-man licensing panel agreed that the premises’ licence holder, Mr Jurijs Ogorodnikovs, had failed in his duties to prevent crime and disorder and protection of children from harm.

It is a condition of premises’ licences that all staff responsible for sale of age-related products are suitably trained and that premises operate the Challenge 25 proof of age policy - requiring anyone who appears to be aged under 25 to produce proof of age before being served with alcohol.

The shop was visited in November, 2016, as part of the Boston Community Alcohol Partnership campaign to tackle underage drinking and associated anti-social behaviour. The emphasis was to ensure the age verification policy was being operated.

After the visit an undercover operation in January 2017, saw test purchases made by volunteers just past their 18th birthdays who did not carry age identification.

A number of stores, including European Food, sold alcohol without checking ages.

The CAP organised further free training in March.

In June European Food again failed a test purchase, selling alcohol to two “customers” aged 20 who were not age checked as they should have been under Challenge 25 rules.

Then in November two volunteers aged just 16 were sold cans of cider at the shop without being age checked.

European Food was the only shop to fail this final vital test.

The assistant who made the sale received a £90 fixed penalty fine.

Chairman of the licensing sub-committee, Cllr Paul Gleeson, said: “We are aware of concerns people have about issues in the town around the sale of alcohol.

“To an extent we are bound by national legislation which allows sales of alcohol from establishments such as off-licences.

“Competitive elements - commercial decisions about what saturation occurs in an area - are not currently included in these rules.

“There are really specific reasons which have to form objections and that we have to be satisfied are not being met before we can refuse or revoke a licence.

“It will encourage everyone that on this occasion the magistrates have agreed with our original ruling.”

“We are committed to safeguarding the public and take the offence of selling alcohol to children very seriously.”