Morpeth store banned from selling alcohol

22 Dec 2016

A Morpeth store which sold alcohol to an under 18 and had a string of complaints about nearby anti-social behaviour has had its licence to sell alcohol revoked.

A licensing hearing at County Hall heard how Stobhillgate Post Office at 35 Shields Road, Stobhill Gate, was the subject of a test purchase operation earlier this year when a member of staff sold alcohol to a 16-year-old.

The operation followed “numerous” complaints dating back to February 2015 to both the council’s Trading Standards team and Northumbria Police around under age sales of cigarettes, alcohol and scratch cards.

The store was visited on many occasions and during one visit a staff member admitted to selling single cigarettes, which in itself is illegal.

There were also reports of teenagers congregating outside the store at weekends, even travelling from as far away as Cramlington.

County Councillor Liz Simpson, Chair of Safer Northumberland, said: “We have worked hard with our partners in Northumbria Police to try and resolve this ongoing issue for both local residents and the wider community.

“We have held meetings with the trader and despite assurances to change their working practices we have continued to receive complaints. This has been ongoing for nearly two years now and a ban on alcohol sales is now in force.

“Hopefully this should serve as a reminder to all those who sell alcohol that with a licence comes responsibility and we will take action against those who fail in these responsibilities.”

The business now has 21 days to appeal.

Northumbria Police Chief Inspector Steve Readdie: "We are pleased with the decision of the licensing sub-committee to revoke this shop's licence to sell alcohol.  We believe it sends a clear message to businesses that they must take their responsibilities seriously to ensure that children are not able to buy alcohol from shops in Northumberland.

"We know that under 18s who drink alcohol are more likely to become involved in anti-social behaviour and that by drinking they can also make themselves vulnerable to harm.

"Our officers work closely with the council’s Trading Standards and licensing officers to carry out regular checks on licensed premises and this partnership work will continue."

Anyone with concerns about shops selling alcohol to under 18s should contact their local neighbourhood policing team on 101.