Reporting Officer – Matt Cobb
The Sub-Committee had before it a report regarding an application by Surrey Police for a Review of the Premises Licence held by Budgens, 1 Chertsey Road, Woking. Peter Savill of Counsel and Geanine Crowley attended the meeting to represent Surrey Police. A representation had also been received from Trading Standards. A representation in support of Budgens had been received from Welcome Skills.
The Premises Licence Holder, Nurul Islam, was not in attendance at the hearing. The Council’s Solicitor, Joanne McIntosh, advised the Sub-Committee that a representation had been received a few days before stating that Mr Islam could not attend due to a medical appointment with a nurse at town centre based surgery at 10.30am. No reason for the medical appointment being the same day as the hearing had been given, and Mr Islam had previously been informed of the start time for the hearing which was midday. The Sub-Committee was advised that it could proceed in Mr Islam’s absence or adjourn to a future date. Both the Licensing Authority and Surrey Police expressed the view they wished to proceed in absence. The Sub-Committee agreed that the hearing should proceed in his absence.
All parties present had a copy of the Licensing Committee’s agreed procedure to be followed at Licensing Sub-Committee hearings. The Chairman introduced Members of the Sub-Committee and outlined the order of speaking which would be followed at the hearing.
The Licensing Authority’s representative, Matthew Cobb, advised the Sub-Committee that in the report the current licensed hours of operation were set out at paragraph 2.2. An error was noted for the sale of alcohol on Sunday, as the opening hours were from 10.00 hours to 22.00 hours. The Committee was referred to paragraph 7.4 which set out the options for the Sub-Committee in determining the matter. The Police had no questions for Mr Cobb.
The Chairman gave Mr Savill the opportunity to address the Sub-Committee. Mr Savill referred to the guidance from the Secretary of State on the Licensing Act 2003, which stated that Licensing Authorities had a duty to take steps to promote the licensing objectives in the interests of the wider community. The selling of alcohol to minors was stated to be an offence for which revocation of a premises licence should be considered, even in the first instance. He stated that Budgens had sold alcohol to minors on three occasions which had led Surrey Police to recommend that the Premises Licence should be revoked. It was added that Budgens had not taken its responsibilities seriously with no training having taken place between failed test purchases, mention of a rogue employee in a representation received from the store, and breaches of licensing conditions. Mr Savill referred to the three failed test purchases and urged the Sub-Committee to revoke the licence.
Councillor Eastwood referred to the representation from Surrey Police which stated that during a visit on 6 April 2018 it was found that there were no training records for any staff and that the refusals log was not used regularly as it was not to hand when requested. He stated that it was disappointing that neither the Premises Licence Holder or a representative from Budgens had attended the hearing, noting that it was operated as a franchise.
The Chairman added that the Premises Licence Holder did not seem to be taking the matter seriously and had not advised that the medical appointment with a nurse had been an emergency.
No closing statements were made by those parties present. Mrs McIntosh reminded the Sub-Committee that a representation from Welcome Skills on behalf of Mr Islam had been appended to the report as Appendix 6.
The Chairman adjourned the meeting at 12.10pm. The Sub-Committee deliberated in private, requesting that the Council’s Solicitor join them for the provision of legal advice, and re-assembled at 12.20pm.
The Chairman stated that having read the reports and considered the arguments, the Sub-Committee had decided to revoke the Premises Licence. The Sub-Committee had taken into account the Secretary of State guidance and the Licensing Objectives, particularly the Protection of Children from Harm. The Chairman stated that the Sub-Committee was extremely concerned that there had been two failed test purchases within two months of each other and three within three years. The Sub-Committee was incredibly disappointed that the Premises Licence Holder had not attended the hearing given the serious nature of the matter. It was added that the premises would have the Right of Appeal to the Magistrate’s Court within 21 days.
That the Premises Licence held by Budgens be revoked.