Posted on Monday 28th October 2013
Turtle Beach Food & Wine
A Rhondda convenience store has lost its licence to sell alcohol over the Christmas period after allegedly exacerbating underage alcohol consumption, drug misuse and anti-social behaviour in the local community.
Turtle Beach Food and Wine Company in Bute Street, Treherbert, appeared before Merthyr Magistrates’ Court to appeal against a decision by Rhondda Cynon Taf Council in May 2013 to revoke its licence entirely.
The Court decided that after the management of the store had demonstrated better compliance and evidence showed they implemented a more robust business framework and a set of conditions in place, they would only lose their licence to sell alcohol for a period of three months.
Magistrates’ made the decision after it was agreed the retailer would continue to profit from socially irresponsible behaviour which was having an adverse impact on the surrounding community. They were ordered to pay £1,000 costs and their licence to sell alcohol will not be reinstated until January 22nd 2014.
In a multi-agency investigation by Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Trading Standards and Licensing Team, South Wales Police and UK Border Agency, it was felt the store owners had previously failed to prevent crime and disorder, protect public safety, prevent public nuisance and protect children from harm.
The Court heard that since September 2012 the licensee of the shop was Harprit Singh with Pritnam Singh named as Designated Premises Supervisor who had day to day control of the business. But it was explained that both individuals resided in Norwich where they had other business interests and only visited Treherbert one day every two weeks.
This detracted from their ability to properly manage the Treherbert premises to the standard required and it was deemed that they had lacked awareness of local problems include substance misuse and anti-social behaviour which their store effectively contributed towards.
In February 2013 there was a sale of alcohol to an underage person which demonstrated the inadequacy of management control. There was also an overt display of paraphernalia, such as amyl nitrate aromas which although are not illegal, had the potential for misuse when taken with alcohol or other substances.
There was also an offer of sale of miniature bottles and high strength alcohol at discounted prices with the potential to be accessible and affordable to young people.
It was noted at the original Licensing Committee hearing that the licensee had committed an offence by illegally employing people at the premises who did not have the authority to work. They were also unable to converse in English which meant that the potential sale of age restricted goods in a high risk area would significantly increase.
Members were told that CCTV was not made available when requested giving rise to concern that it may have identified further instances of non compliance in the shop.
Harpit Singh had previously received a formal caution for an under age sale in Norwich and was given advice and guidance as he demonstrated little knowledge of policy regarding age-restricted products.
The multi-agency investigation collectively expressed a view that the criminality associated with the activity at the premises was not only failing to promote the licensing objectives, but combined with a lack of social responsibility was having an adverse impact on the community in which it trades.
Merthyr Magistrates’ Court heard on appeal that the original concerns in respect of confidence in management, together with the ability to break the cycle of behaviour currently associated with the premises, were no longer valid as a more robust framework was in place.
It was felt that evidence showed the management was now trying to establish clear and consistent standards of acceptable behaviour, which reflect the social responsibility involved in the sale of alcohol and the clear public interest in regulating such sale.
David Jones, Head of Community Protection at Rhondda Cynon Taf Council said: “It has long been recognised that there are issues affecting our communities that cannot be effectively tackled by one agency alone. The action taken by the Councils Licensing Committee was made possible by the contributions of all these.
"Turtle Beach Food and Wine Company, was profiting from selling alcohol irresponsibly and also selling other legal but potentially dangerous substances and paraphanalia to facilitate substance misuse with no regard for the impact on the local community. The suspension of their licence over the Christmas period will be a costly lesson and will give the management time to reflect on how they need to change their approach”.
South Wales Police Inspector for Rhondda Nick Picton said, “A well run shop is a real asset to any community, but a badly run shop can be the source of many problems.
“Turtle Beach Food and Wine Company quite literally fuelled anti-social behaviour in the local community through their irresponsible sale of alcohol.
“The owners failed to meet our expectations despite being given a number of chances, and now they are paying the ultimate price as they won’t be reaping the rewards of what could have been a very prosperous time of year.
“I hope this has been a valuable lesson for them and also sends message out to other shop owners.”