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Masthead Local Govt - Licensing

Council defeats appeal by convenience store over revocation of premises licence

The London Borough of Southwark has successfully defended its decision to revoke the premises licence of a convenience store that had been found, on six separate occasions, to be employing immigrant workers.

Camberwell Green Magistrates’ Court was told that a broom cupboard at Peckham Food and Wine was being used as sleeping quarters for two workers. The employees were also paid below the minimum wage. Various breaches of the licence conditions were found.

A review application was made by Bill Masini on behalf of Southwark Trading Standards.

According to leading licensing chambers Francis Taylor Building, prior to the review hearing, an application to transfer the licence was received by the council and objected to by police.

The transferee claimed to be untainted by the past behaviour and pledged to turn around the operation.

However, following questioning it turned out that he was the estranged husband of the premises licence holder and related to the other directors of the operating company.

The licensing sub-committee refused the transfer and revoked the premises licence.

On appeal the transferee argued that it was wrong to judge him by his family relationships. He was his own “autonomous” individual and had demonstrated his commitment to promote the licensing objectives.

However, FTB said that under cross-examination it became apparent that he had been involved in the running of the business prior to the review application. It was also revealed that two of his current employees had worked at the venue when the breaches had taken place. One was, and continued to be, an illegal worker.

On inspection visits prior to the appeal hearing Southwark found further breaches of the licence. The store also failed a test purchase under the transferee’s stewardship.

District Judge Julie Cooper, sitting at Camberwell Green Magistrates’ Court, upheld Southwark’s decision. She also awarded the council its costs of over £11,000.

Gary Grant of FTB acted for the London Borough of Southwark instructed by Debra Allday of Southwark’s Legal Department.

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