Alcohol ban at Worthing shop that sold fake vodka

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A Worthing shop has lost its alcohol licence after it was found to be selling counterfeit “industrial” vodka and served an underage test customer.

Allsorts, in Montague Street, had its licence revoked at Worthing Magistrates’ Court.

The off-licence, unless it appeals the decision, will be banned from selling any alcohol from October 18. If it does sell alcohol without being granted a new licence it could face a £20,000 fine or up to six months in prison.

Councillor John Rogers, chairman of the Worthing licensing and control committee, said: “This decision should send out a clear message to all licensed premises that Worthing is no place for either under-age sales or counterfeit goods. The council working together with other agencies will find out about anyone doing this and you will be brought before the committee and the courts as appropriate.”

The court appearance came after West Sussex Trading Standards made an application to Worthing Borough Council in August calling for a review of the shop’s licence under the objectives of prevention of crime and disorder and public safety. The review application sought revocation of the licence, or at the very least suspension of the licence for a period of up to three months, to act as a deterrent against further criminal activity by the licence holder in question – Worthing Local Ltd – or any others. Sussex Police made representation supporting the case.

The committee hearing the case considered it to be particularly serious. Members heard there were two incidents in April, 2012, regarding the offering for sale of illegal alcohol.

In one incident, more than 50 half-bottles of “vodka” were seized and found to be counterfeit and containing traces of industrial alcohol. The products on both occasions were found to be in breach of the Food Safety Act. In addition there was a failure of a underage test purchase in July, 2011.

The committee determined the designated premises supervisor and company director, Golam Wayes, did not fulfil his obligations. There was insufficient supervision, CCTV was not operative and Mr Wayes failed to train staff which breached a condition of the licence. In addition, the committee was concerned that a prospective purchaser of the business was left in sole charge of the shop in September, 2012, without Mr Wayes being present.

The financial implications of the revocation were considered. However, the committee regarded these matters as so serious that revocation was necessary.

The decision to revoke the licence can be appealed within 21 days of the hearing.

If no appeal is lodged, the licence would be revoked from October 18, when all licensable activity at the store must cease and shelves cleared of alcohol products. If an appeal is lodged, the committee’s decision is suspended until the appeal has been dealt with by the courts.

The council’s licensing unit can be contacted in confidence on 01273 263191.