Durham shop loses alcohol licence, again

By Chris Binding, Local Democracy Reporter

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News & Booze off-licence in New Kyo, Catherine Terrace, Stanley (Photo: Google)

A convenience store in County Durham has been barred from selling alcohol over claims it flouted licensing rules.

In April 2019, bosses behind the News & Booze store in New Kyo, Stanley, were called before council licensing bosses over concerns about alcohol sales and management practices.

At the time, councillors heard the shop had failed three test purchases since 2016 with an illegal worker also found at the site in December 2018.

Although licensing chiefs revoked the licence, the decision was overturned on appeal with the caveat that new measures were put in place.

This included new licensing conditions and transferring the premises licence holder and designated premises supervisor roles to relative Ifzal Mehdi.

However, following several follow up visits in early 2020, Durham County Council raised concerns that the conditions agreed at the appeal were not being met.

As a result, the council’s Licensing Authority launched a second review of the shop’s alcohol licence.

Licensing officer, Nicola Anderson, outlined the case at a digital hearing on June 25 which was broadcast live on YouTube.

Questions were raised about staff training, lack of oversight of the store’s practices and the actions of an existing personal licence holder responsible for ‘day to day’ operations.

In several visits in early 2020, council officers found issues around record keeping, recording refusals, logging products as ‘age-restricted’ items, CCTV cameras displaying the wrong time and other breaches of conditions.

Licensing officer, Mrs Anderson, told the meeting: “There are concerns about these premises and the way that they’re being run bearing in mind they have already been through a review process.

“They appealed that decision and were granted the licence with additional conditions, however they don’t appear to be compliant with those conditions and there appears to be a great lack of understanding about the conditions and the licence.

“As such as a licensing authority, we have great concerns about the management of these premises.”

Graham Blount, of Trading Standards, added: “The whole policy, the lack of putting posters up, the lack of following anything that had been requested, despite it being laid out on a plate to them, really gives me grave concerns.

“That actually they’re just following their own path and not paying attention to what is required.”

The meeting heard that Ifzal Mehdi was unable to attend the hearing due to ill health with his legal representative requesting the hearing to be adjourned.

However, licensing bosses agreed to press ahead due to the previous issues at the store and delays to the hearing caused by Covid-19.

Following a private discussion, the council’s Statutory Licensing Sub-Committee agreed to revoke the licence.