I oppose the decision of Worthing Borough Council’s licensing committee to revoke the Premises Licence (to sell alcohol) of Mr Ashish Soni, at The Shop, on the corner of Chapel Road and Wenban Road.
I was pleased, as a customer of this shop, to defend Mr Soni and his partner Yogita at the recent committee hearing.
Mr Soni admits that twice this year – in January (when he was at fault) and in April (when his new assistant erred) – The Shop sold alcohol to 16-year-olds during test purchase operations carried out by Sussex Police.
About the first mistake, Mr Soni told me: “I just don’t know how it happened. I have been serving people alcohol for eight years without a blemish, then I lost my concentration for a split second. I was just so, so tired. I’d had a marathon shift behind the till.”
Mistake number two came when Mr Soni’s new young assistant failed the police test on only her fourth evening working at the shop.
She had been employed for a total of just six hours and ten minutes!
I have known Ashish and Yogita for eleven years.
They are honest young people who work all the hours God sends. They have served this community with distinction, often going the extra mile by delivering groceries to the elderly and infirm.
The committee’s decision will now go to appeal before the Worthing Magistrates.
If Ashish and Yogita lose their licence, they fear that, due to the cut-throat competition from four similar shops – plus a Morrisons – within a few hundred yards, they will lose their shop, their home and the future of their two young sons, aged three and seven.
I and many, many customers who are currently signing a Petition of Support at The Shop appeal to Sussex Police, Paul High and his committee, and the magistrates to show leniency and give Ash and Yogi another chance.
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