This application was due to be considered on Tuesday, 26 April 2022.
The meeting commenced and was adjourned to a later date to enable the Applicant’s agent to attend.
In accordance with Section 51 of the Licensing Act 2003, the Council has received an application from Kent Police, as a responsible authority, for a review of the existing premises licence in respect of Baba Food and Wine, 75 High Street, Gillingham, Kent, ME7 1BJ.
All responsible authorities have been consulted in line with the Licensing Act 2003.
Representations in support of the review application have been received from the Director of Public Health.
The Chairman asked the parties to introduce themselves and then reminded all present of the process that would be followed as outlined in the main agenda.
The Senior Licensing Officer outlined the review application before the Panel, with reference to the documents contained within the main agenda pack prepared for the original hearing date of 26 April 2022 and the supplementary agenda packs nos 1 and 2 issued on 16 and 20 June respectively.
The Chairman explained that the Panel might need to go into closed sessions for related matters as and when required. PC Smuts indicated that the Kent Police had no objection for the CCTV footages being viewed in open meeting with the exception of one clip.
PC Smuts presented the application for a review of the premises licence on behalf of Kent Police. He said that Baba Food and Wine was a grocery store authorised to sell alcohol 24 hours a day for 365 days a year. The shop was located in the High Street at Gillingham close to the junction of the Canterbury Street, surrounded by a variety of business, retail and residential properties. The Gillingham High Street and the nearby areas suffered from a high level of crime, disorder and anti-social behaviour. The area was covered by both a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) and Cumulative Impact Policy (CIP). Currently the High Street was suffering high and unacceptable levels of persons regularly found to be street drinking and consuming alcohol within the PSPO control zone. Persons found to be street drinking were often persons that were alcohol dependent consuming high-strength beers and ciders. An inevitable consequence of street drinking could be aggression, public nuisance, public urination, alcohol-related litter and crime and disorder.
PC Smuts further said that it had become increasingly evident to both the town centre policing team and police licensing officers that street drinking levels in Gillingham appeared to be on the increase, with the immediate area in relation to the premises being of particular concern. It was evident to the Kent Police that the premises had a large effect on the nuisance problem in the High Street. He then shared with Panel members on the crime and disorder incidents which he considered helped to show that the premises were being run irresponsibly:
- On 26 October 2021, the Kent Police reminded Mr Temur, the Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS) that the premises should not serve alcohol to drunk people.
- On 1 January 2022, at approximately 01:00, PC Hunt and PC Smuts observed a male sitting on the bench directly outside St Mark’s Church on High Street consuming what appeared to be a can of lager or cider. (St Mark’s Church is the immediate neighbouring property to Baba Food and Wine). Sitting on the ground directly outside of the premises surrounded by her bedding and belongings was a female that appeared to be homeless. A male was observed entering the premises and purchasing a bottle of cider. Upon exiting the premises, the male engaged in conversation with the female who then produced a wine glass. The male proceeded to fill the wine glass with the cider he had just bought and the female consumed it in the street.
- In the interest of engaging in a stepped approach, he and PC Hunt entered the shop and discussed with staff serving alcohol to the person who then consumed it in the street. The staff member insisted that the female had previously been barred from the shop and due to the male buying her cider, he too would be barred henceforth. PC Smuts said that this helped show that the staff member was fully aware of the licensing objective of prevention of public nuisance.
- Kent Police licensing, after receiving reports of street drinking in the High Street, were handed the local authority’s CCTV and the policing team became aware of the incident on Tuesday 1 February 2022. At approximately 11:00, a male was seen from the CCTV purchased 2 cans of what is suspected to be high-strength lager or cider. This same male consumed the alcohol in the street outside until about 11:22.
Then, the Panel watched the CCTV footages and still pictures from body worn camera shown by the Kent Police along with PC Smuts’ explanations:
- Tuesday 1 February 2022. At 10:59 on the premises’ CCTV, a male entered the shop and bought alcohol (cider). At 11:22 on the Council’s CCTV, the male was seen walking off with a can, drinking.
- Tuesday 1 February 2022. At 16:42 on the Council’s CCTV, a male was seen exiting the shop, sitting on the bench and drinking. He left his can on the bench before leaving at 16:56.
- Thursday 3 February 2022. At 09:16 on the premises’ CCTV, a male purchased a single can of HCC cider. Another male was supplied with a can of Stella lager at 09:20. Both males were spoken to by town centre officers around 09:42 on the Council’s CCTV. The items purchased by the males at the premises had been consumed in the street.
- Thursday 3 February 2022. At 16:12 on the premises’ CCTV, a male purchased what appeared to be 2 cans of Warka Red lager (5% ABV) at the premises. This same male exited the shop at 16:13 on the Council’s CCTV, and consumed alcohol in the street outside St Mark’s Church before leaving at 16:18.
- This live case would be shown to the Panel in a closed session:
Saturday 5 February 2022. At 05:37, the premises called police and reported a drunk male fighting with other customers outside the premises. They alleged that the drunk customer had caused damage to shop property and four members of the public’s cars and had reportedly been causing issues for a period of around 2 hours since 03:30. This male was subsequently arrested by police for multiple offences including assault of a police officer. Upon viewing the premises’ CCTV of the incident, it became apparent that the staff, who said the drunk male had been causing them issues for 2 hours had sold him two cans of Perla Black, 7.6% ABV beer 12 minutes (at 05:23 and 05:25) before they called the Police.
- Thursday 17th February 2022. In the morning, PC Hunt observed 2 males of dishevelled appearance walking along High Street in the direction of the premises. One male was seen to sit on the bench directly outside of St Mark’s Church whilst the other went into the premises. The male purchased a large bottle of Frosty Jack cider (7.5% ABV) at 08:39 on the premises’ CCTV and upon leaving the shop, joined the male on the bench where they remained consuming the cider in the street, sharing the bottle between them.
PC Smuts said that this matter was addressed with the DPS, Mr Temur, who said that the male street drinker might have bought the cider elsewhere. This helped show that Mr Temur was aware of his responsibility under the Licensing Act. Referring to the incident on 5 February 2022, PC Hunt had remarked that the premises had attracted an enormous amount of anti-social and nuisance behaviour and had reminded Mr Temur that the High Street was covered by the PSPO. However, Mr Temur had expressed concern to the police about why he and his staff were required to assist in combating street drinking, as the police should provide sufficient resources to deal with the issue. PC Hunt had responded that as a DPS, it was incumbent upon Mr Temur to promote the licensing objectives.
PC Smuts said that Mr Temur had remarked that except for one brand, his shop sold low-strength beer of 5% ABV or below and that PC Hunt had pointed out that some of the ciders displayed on the shelf had strength as high as 9% ABV. In response, Mr Temur had clarified that when he had referred to removing high-strength beers from the shelf, it did not include ciders which were popular locally but not so readily available and hence would bring business to the shop.
PC Smuts referred to a conversation which PC Hunt had had with Mr Temur regarding the sale of Frosty Jack cider to the two males, Mr Temur said he would have a strong word with the staff concerned.
- Saturday 19 February 2022. At 11:46 a male purchased a bottle of beer and a can of lager from the premises and then consumed the alcohol with another male whilst sitting on a bench outside of St Mark’s Church. These persons were directed to leave the area by the town centre PCSO at 12:01, as captured by the officer’s body-worn camera.
- Friday 25th February 2022. At about 11:00, PC Hunt was in attendance at the premises conducting CCTV inquiries. At this time, the same male from 17th February 2022 attended the store and purchased a bottle of cider. He confirmed to PC Hunt that he bought the Frosty Jack cider from the shop on 17 February. Shortly after, the male was seen by police to be sitting on a bench opposite the premises drinking the cider. At 11:32 on the Council’s CCTV, this male who was seen drinking Frosty Jack cider, gave the bottle to a male ina wheelchair and the latter consumed the contents.
PC Smuts further advised that on 1 March 2022, he and PC Hunt served the paperwork relating to this review application to Mr Temur at the premises and explained the rationale for the application was due to the public nuisance caused by street drinking. Mr Temur had said that the high-strength beer would not be ordered again after the stock lasted.
- Tuesday 22 March 2022. At about 10:38 on the premises’ CCTV, an intoxicated male entered Baba Food and Wine carrying an open can of Captain Morgan rum and coke and purchased a 25cl bottle of vodka. The male exited the premises and sat on the bench opposite, outside of Burger King on High Street Gillingham. He sat next to a female that was already there sitting and drinking Ace cider. The male opened and drank the bottle of vodka, throwing the empty bottle onto the ground after finishing it. Within a few minutes, the male left the bench and walked away up the High Street. This is captured on both the premises and local authority CCTV.
- Saturday 7 May 2022. At about 0330, the Council’s CCTV reported an unresponsive male outside of the shop with a group of his associates attempting to rouse him. Baba Food and Wine staff were seen to be aware of the group. At 0527, Southeast Kent Ambulance service attended to ascertain that the male was very intoxicated. At about 0445, an intoxicated female alleged that the males in the group were fighting with her and she threatened self-harm. Kent Police produced the Council’s and premises’ CCTV evidence of numerous alcohol purchases linked to these two CCTV footages between 0248 and 0500. PC Smuts considered that the emergency services so deployed under such circumstances might be better utilised elsewhere.
- Wednesday 11 May 2022. At about 02:54, a vulnerable male reported being robbed at the junction of High Street and Canterbury Street. Council CCTV showed the male being punched and kicked on the floor, with several cut across the face. The two suspects who were well-known street drinkers were then seen leaving the scene. Kent Police produced Council’s and premises’ CCTV of alcohol purchases from the premises by the offenders at 01:42. PC Smuts reiterated again the use of emergency services for a better cause.
PC Smuts stressed that prior to submitting this full premises licence review application, Kent Police had taken a considered and stepped approach, engaging with staff and the DPS to explain the Kent Police’s concerns and offer advice and guidance on numerous occasions. In conversation with Kent Police, the DPS and his partner had offered to remove a small selection of high-strength products from sale, but not with immediate effect proposing only to do so once all stock of that particular product had sold out. The DPS had not been prepared to remove all high-strength beers and ciders from sale and wished to continue to sell a large quantity of such products for what the police considered to be financially motivated reasons. PC Smuts said that the DPS and his staff had appeared dismissive of the issues caused by street drinkers and when being challenged had excused their actions by referring to the street drinker in question being “a good guy” or “he is okay” (or words to that effect). PC Smuts said that street drinking was blatant and not hidden leaving Kent Police to believe that the premises must have knowledge of the fact and must have known that they were fuelling street drinking. PC Smuts considered that it was reasonable to surmise that there would have been other incidents in addition to those that the police were aware of.
PC Smuts referred to the statements from two local residents who evidenced nuisance, rowdy behaviour and drinking on Gillingham High Street by drivers having purchased alcohol from the venue. They said that drivers bought alcohol from the shop for consumption and had loud parties until early hours of the mornings. On Sunday 8 May (or in the early hours of 9 May), the vehicles, about 20 in number, seemed to be racing one another up and down the High Street with their music turned up very loud. Baba Food and Wine was open and selling alcohol to the drivers who started drinking. According to the statements, these vehicles and their owners were a constant problem and there were similar issues outside the shop on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, sometimes until 6 or 7 am in the mornings. People were seen coming out of the shop with alcohol, and the shop attracted alcoholics while residents had to put up with anti-social behaviour of the drunk people.
PC Smuts questioned the statements that the premises were not selling alcohol to street drinkers or had little knowledge or control of what was happening. He said that Kent Police had provided advice and/or warnings to the shop on five documented occasions but this advice was not being considered as the shop continued to sell alcohol to street drinkers. They had disregarded the licensing objectives, the Licensing Act, the CIP and the PSPO which were affecting the residents in the immediate area.
PC Smuts noted from the witness statement of Mr Aslan that the shop stopped stocking ciders generally consumed by street drinkers and high-strength beers such as Special Brew and Super Skol since February 2022. However, after three months on 26 May when PC Hunt attended the shop, OJ Premium Strong (8.5% ABV) and other beers of 7 – 9% ABV were seen being displayed for sales in the shop. As regards the register of refusal, there were 94 entries after eliminating the duplicates, and among them, there were 12.5 incidents of refusal per day for the period between 1 October and 12 May. The register of refusal at the shop had no entry since 12 May when PC Hunt and his colleague visited the shop on 17 June.
PC Smuts expressed concern that at the hearing of the Licensing Hearing Panel for a new premises licence for Baba Food Centre on 2 March 2022, Mr Temur was willing to reduce the operating hours having regard to the cumulative issues already affecting the area. He also agreed to other robust conditions such as not selling alcohol above 5.5% ABV nor single unit of alcohol in order to eliminate low-cost transactions. Kent Police had little faith that Baba Food and Wine would have the ability to promote the licensing objectives having noted its failure to stop selling alcohol to street drinkers. As such, Kent Police sought revocation of the premises licence. Should revocation not be considered by the Panel, then Kent Police proposed to add the following premises licence conditions:
1. Reduction in licensable hours to 09:00 to 20:00.
2. No beer, lager, cider or spirit mixer above 5.5% ABV to be supplied.
3. No single sales of beer, lager or cider. Only purchase of 4 or more items will be permitted.
4. Outside the hours authorised for the sale of alcohol, all alcohol within the trading area is to be secured behind locked grilles, screens or cabinet doors.
5. Removal of DPS.
6. A clear glazing policy for the window to the front of the premises shall be kept above 1 metre and below 2 metre (measured from the shop floor) so that staff have an unobstructed view of the area immediately outside and to the front of the premises. The exception to this being any display or notice required by law and any required as a condition of this licence.
7. Branded shop carrier bags when provided with alcohol.
The Panel agreed to exclude the press and the public and reviewed two CCTV footages provided by the Kent Police.
When the open meeting resumed, in response to the Chairman, Mr Kolvin said that the licence holder did not wish to ask the applicant and other parties questions. The Chairman then invited the representative of Public Health to present her representation in support of the application for review.
Mrs Murray, Public Health Project Officer that the representation was intended to give the Licensing Hearing Panel a better understanding of the issues in this area and the current evidence to support the concerns the Director of Public Health had regarding the events outlined in the Police’s review.
Mrs Murray said that there was a general problem in the High Street area with street drinking, intimidating and anti-social behaviour and associated litter, with discarded cans and bottles in alleyways and public areas. She had attended this area on several occasions between June 2021 and March 2022 and there was ongoing evidence of alcohol-related street drinking and associated litter in and around the High Street. This consisted of bottles and cans of beer and cider, both ‘super’ strength and regular strength, and bottles of spirits, as well as plastic and cardboard wrappings, bottle tops and other associated litter. Areas where the litter was found in particular concentrations were:
• alleyways off Balmoral Road/Duncan Road area;
• Balmoral Gardens;
• alleyways between High Street and Fox Street;
• along Jeffery Street, but particularly in the communal gardens to the flats in Jeffery Street at its junction with Skinner Street, and by the public car park;
• in the flower beds around St Mark’s church; and
• in the car parks and alleyways off Green Street.
Mrs Murray pointed out that discarded bottles and cans could be seen everywhere thrown into the gutter, front gardens and on footpaths. Examples of the type of litter in areas closest to the premises had been included in Annex 1 which was part of the agenda. The photographs showed much of the litter consisted of single cans and bottles but taken in totality there was a large quantity of it in the area. Over the period of time the evidence was collected the litter was ongoing and consistent. The area to the front and side of St Mark’s Church, which was directly next to the premises was particularly bad for alcohol litter, and, as could be seen from the photographs, it was often found in and under the bushes in significant quantities but also around the benches to the front of the premises.
Mrs Murray said that she had witnessed people engaging in public drinking in
• The High Street;
• Green Street;
• Balmoral Gardens;
• Jeffery Street; and
• on the benches by St Mark’s Church, which tallied with the alcohol litter seen in the area.
Mrs Murray also confirmed the incident depicted by the Police on 22 March 2022 when she took photographs of the area. On occasions there was a strong smell of urine and evidence of public defecation in the flower bed bordering St Mark’s Church in Canterbury Street.
The Chairman asked Panel members to question the police representatives and the following matters were raised:
· On the licensing hours of similar premises within 2 minutes’ walk from St Mark’s Church, PC Hunt advised that on a recent review, there were roughly about 17 similar premises along the Gillingham High Street and they all closed before midnight. Baba Food and Wine was the only premises operating 24 hours a day.
· On the estimated daily amount spent on alcohol by the street drinkers, PC Hunt said that a can/a bottle of cider and lager ranged from £1 - £2/ £2 - £3. Some of them might drink just one or two while the others might be way more excessive for 5 – 7. Mrs Murray added that it was not unusual for dependent drinkers to drink up to 70 units accumulating to 4 -5 large bottles per day. The estimated number of street drinkers in Gillingham remained uncertain.
· As regards the engagement of the Police with the premises for it to improve its implementation of the licensing conditions, PC Smuts said he paid Mr Temur a cursory visit when he became DPS and reminded him not to sell to the drunk people. Mr Temur assured that he and his staff would not do it. This reminder was time and again mentioned to Mr Temur when the Police picked up the CCTV clips and sent over the paperwork for the review. As an experienced DPS, Mr Temur should be well aware about the responsibility of the licensee. Despite the 4 to 5 reminders provided to Mr Temur before the review application, his shop remained largely responsible for selling alcohol to street drinkers.
The Chairman invited the licensee’s legal representative to respond to the review application.
Mr Philip Kolvin referred to the range of powers available to the licensing authority that it might exercise on determining a review, from modifying the conditions of the premises licence, removing the DPS, to suspending or revoking the licence. He pointed out that this was the first review and the Police now suggested revoking the licence. He considered that the Licensing Authority should seek to establish the cause(s) of concerns and decide what remedial action was required to address the concerns that instigated the review. He highlighted that this was a first review, and it should be a problem solving exercise to find the right balance and proportionate response.
Mr Kolvin said that he would brief the Panel on the history of the premises, the steps that had already been taken to promote the licensing objectives and then propose a fair and proportionate way forward. He provided the following responses to the review application:
· This was the first review and revocation of licence would be a disproportionate sanction. He understood from the submissions of the Police and Public Health that there were social issues around Gillingham High Street which in his opinion might be addressed without the need to remove premises licence.
· Mr Aslan had purchased this business four years ago. It was a small supermarket or a large convenience store, providing a full range of products 24 hours a day for people living and working in Gillingham town centre, especially beneficial for those working shifts and who utilised the High Street at night. It provided employment for 12 people which was particularly important during the pandemic. Mr Aslan’s operation of the premises during the period between early 2018 and late 2021 was beyond reproach. The business was perfectly functioning without review, warning or formal meeting with the authority on any issues of operation. Mr Aslan had worked with the Police and assisted their inquiries which in some cases had helped bring justice to individuals through CCTV reviews. There was no allegation against the premises at all until 1 am on 1 Jan 2022 which was three years and 10 months after Mr Aslan had purchased and operated the business.
· By that date, Mr Aslan was a very unwell man who intended to sell his business when Mr Temur approached him for a partnership proposal. Mr Temur was a Swedish citizen and a businessman who moved to live in the UK four years ago in 2018. He was a local councillor in Sweden dealing with neighbourhood renewal and regeneration. He paid a lot of money to go into partnership for this 24-hour business. They registered the company together with their initials as Tem-As Kent Limited. On 18 October 2021, they transferred the premises licence to Tem-As Kent Limited and trade continued.
· On 9 January 2022, Mr Aslan left for Turkey to undergo an operation from which he was still recovering and returned on 15 March 2022 when the review had already started. Mr Aslan lived opposite the shop and was usually able to observe the shop’s activities. Unfortunately, Mr Aslan was away when the few incidents under the review happened, but he was now back and able to run the premises and the Baba Food Centre two doors away together with Mr Temur.
· In common with a number of towns and as a fact of life, there was a cohort of about 30 or so street drinkers in Gillingham High Street. While acknowledging the difficulty faced by the local authority in dealing with the social issues caused by street drinkers including low-level disorder, littering, urination and defecation, it was the public duty of the authority to deal with the public nuisance.
· Partly in response to street drinking, Medway had made a PSPO the legal effect of which was correctly stated on the relevant website, which read as:
“The order does not mean a blanket ban on drinking in public, but does mean that a police officer, police community support officer (PCSO) or authorised council officer can prevent you drinking alcohol if you’re behaving anti-socially. They also have the power to confiscate and dispose of your alcohol and fine you up to £500. If you fail to comply you can be arrested…. “
For the PSPO to be run effectively, the local authority should require individuals concerned to stop drinking and fine them if they did not. Although the Police did not fine them probably because the street drinkers did not possess the financial means, they might confiscate the alcohol. From the CCTV footages shown, this power was not exercised by the Police or local authority on a regular basis. The resultant blame was then put on the licensee.
· The shop did not sell Frosty Jack cider which was favoured by street drinkers due to its strength of 7.5% ABV and affordable price. From a 90-second walk from the shop, a 2.2-litre (or 7 units) Frosty Jack cider was available at £4.69 which was equivalent to £1/pint or 27p/unit. Other premises within 10-minute walk were all selling Frosty Jack cider at very affordable price to the street drinkers. That was probably why empty bottles of Frosty Jack were seen littering around the Gillingham High Street the PSPO of which was not enforced.
· It was not against the law for the licensee to sell alcohol to street drinkers. In some towns, some partnerships comprising the Police, local authority, residents, care agencies and licence premises worked together to solve the problem of street drinking collectively. The Police would enforce the PSPO while the business premises would adjust their alcohol sales practices on what and to whom they sold, the hang-out spots would be modified to discourage street drinking, and the local support agencies would impart their expertise to help the street drinkers. When there was a lack of partnership, individual licence premises would be required to resolve the problem of street drinking. The premises licence in question was silent on street drinking and high strength alcohol.
· The Police relayed the incidents since January 2022 in the review and four of them were related to sales of alcohol to people who drank them on the street. They did not appear to be drunk at the time of buying from the shop. The licensee was doing the right thing to call the Police about an incident of disorderly behaviour by a customer.
· On the engagement prior to this review, according to Mr Temur, the Director as well as the DPS, he met the Police for the first time on 17 February 2022. The meeting was described as a cursory chat and chit-chat by PC Smuts, without any partnership work or action plans proposed. Nor was it a formal meeting with uniformed officers at the Police Station with an agenda, a record of meeting, an agreed action plan enlisting the performance review. These were common practices and part of a stepped approach in matters of this nature. Following the impromptu conversations, there was no follow-up letter outlining expectations nor formal warning given. It was not certain why a proper stepped approach was not followed prior to the present review which was a formal exercise. Mr Kolvin understood from Mr Temur that the conversation on 17 February did not go well and he apologised on behalf of Mr Temur.
· On 1 March 2022, the Police started a review following the chit-chats on 17 February and the incidents of continual sales of alcohol to street drinkers on 19 and 25 February. Under the review application, the Police proposed the most serious sanction of licence revocation which was the hardest sanction, contrary to a stepped approach.
· Mr Aslan returned to the UK on 15 March and played no role in the events precipitating this review. He and Mr Temur had discussed the matter and now jointly took the advice of Mr Kilic to act on the concerns of the Police. They proposed the following improvement measures:
- the licensee had stopped the stocking of high-strength alcohol progressively since February 2022 which included beers such as Special Brew, Kestrel, Super Skol; ciders such as Frosty Jack, Omega, HCC, Lambrini, K Cider and would not sell any alcohol above 5.5% ABV;
- an agreement was signed up with Saint Peter’s College in undertaking training for all staff including personal licensing, underage sales and refusal, health and safety courses, first-aid courses;
- price tags with business name on them were ordered;
- branded shop carrier bags to help identify the source of the purchased alcohol were ordered;
- two individuals who were involved with the incidents on 7 and 11 May were dismissed due to serving customers drinking alcohol within the premises;
- an offer was made to the church to fence the church yard to prevent street drinkers from staying there;
- actively convincing street drinkers to move away from the benches; and
- organising a fund to accommodate the homeless street drinkers.
The last three measures were planned to show the licensee’s sincerity in improving the Gillingham High Street.
· Mr Kolvin said that the review initiated by the Police provided an opportunity to build on this progress, and proposed the following 8 additional licence conditions as a proportionate response:
2. No alcohol products should be advertised on premises frontage including A boards;
3. The CCTV system should cover the area immediately outside the front of the premises and the CCTV monitor should be maintained and viewed from the counter;
4. All alcohol displayed should be visible from the counter;
5. All alcohol products should be labelled with the name of premises;
6. All alcohol products sold should be put in a bag carrying the name of the premises;
7. No alcohol products should be sold to known street drinkers or anyone notified by the Police;
8. A notice should be displayed on the exterior of the premises stating alcohol purchased from the shop should not be consumed on the street and sales may be withheld if it is.
He also suggested the following additional condition: A notice to be displayed stating that CCTV operates at these premises.
· Mr Kolvin said that, with these conditions, Baba Food and Wine would be a standard for others to follow. He proceeded to show the meeting the empty cans of alcohol ranging from 6.5 to 9% ABV collected by the shop on the morning of the review hearing in the proximity of the St Mark’s Church. He reminded the Panel that the shop had already stopped selling these alcohol products. It was believed that under a partnership approach with premises working towards the best standard that Baba Food and Wine were proposing to be, the Police enforcing the PSPO and local agencies helping, the problem of street drinking would be dealt with successfully. It was hoped that the proportionate conditions as proposed would help the licensee to retain its right to sell alcohol otherwise the shop would face an economic hit.
· Addressing the two residents’ statement regarding the loud noise outside the shop on 8/9 May, Mr Aslan indicated he was not aware of the night-time disturbance. If car racing did happen on 8/9 May outside the shop, there were no relevant submissions by the Environmental Officer or CCTV evidence provided by the Police to substantiate these statements. There was a possibility that the submissions might have been made by people who had been banned from the shop or those who had been unsuccessful in gaining employment to the premises.
· On PC Smut’s advice that the licensee should observe that the location of the shop was within a CIP area, Mr Kolvin made reference to the national guidance on licensing that CIP only affected new applications for premises licences and was not relevant to licence reviews.
· As regards the conditions proposed by the Police, they were responded as follows:
- no single sales of beer, lager or cider - this would penalise people in a town of limited means, who, like all others, were facing the crisis of rising cost of living;
- reduction in licensable hours - it might require a separate review which should cover the entire 4-year period. If proved to be necessary, the licensee was prepared to deploy a Security Industry Authority (SIA) from 11 pm to 6 am at a cost of £30,000 per annum;
- removal of the DPS – a senior person should remain as a DPS;
- a clear gazing policy to the front of the premises – this was unnecessary and the removal of vegetables stacks would cause inconvenience to customers;
- revocation of licence – consideration could be given to suspending the licence over a weekend as a deterrent instead.
The Chairman invited the Police to ask the licensee’s legal representative questions.
In response to the questions raised by PC Hunt, Mr Kolvin advised the following:
· It was not illegal to sell alcohol above 5.5% ABV as other shops in the proximity were selling them. However, higher strength products would not be reordered once current stock had been sold.
· It was Mr Aslan’s inference that the two residents’ statements were made by people who were banned from using the shop or who had sought employment without success;
· Previous training had been on-the-job provided by the DPS. The agreement with St Peter’s College would allow the licensee to login and monitor the training undertaken by individual staff;
· To meet Condition 6 in the licence, the shop kept a register to show refusal of sales of age restricted products to minors. The register would be expanded to cover customers who were drunk or were a street drinker. The register book had been taken to the office for photocopying into the bundle for submission to the Panel. It had not been returned instantly which was why there were no entries for the period between 12 May and 16 June.
· The two staff were dismissed for a number of incidents and not just those shown in the CCTV footages by the Police when Mr Temur was present. They were both dismissed for allowing a customer to walk into the premises with open bottle and consume alcohol inside the premises.
· The gathering of the street drinkers was due to a range of factors,including weather and geography, availability of benches, supply of food and alcohol etc. The Gillingham Street Angels food bank location was attracting street drinkers to the area as they could get their food supplies from them every morning.
· Mr Temur had been willing to reduce the hours of operation when applying for the new premises licence for Baba Food Centre two doors away having regard to the CIP requirement. A different approach applied to reviews of existing licences.
The Chairman invited Panel members to ask the licensee questions, to which Mr Kolvin provided the following responses:
· The sales of alcohol per day during the week and weekends amounted to £240 - £300 and £600 - £800 respectively, and among them about 2% were high-strength products. The evening sales of alcohol were usually between 11 pm and 1 am, and the sales of alcohol beyond 1 am was very low.
· A photobook of people banned from the premises, using stills from the CCTV, could be put into operation to help staff identify these people.
· The Church had refused the licensee’s proposal for it to fund the fencing of the church yard.
· There were about 3 to 4 staff working between midnight and 6 am. One to two among the 12-staff force could be trained to become licensed SIA door supervisors.
The Chairman invited the parties to sum up.
PC Smuts remarked that it would not be unreasonable to assume that on the balance of probability the known incidents reflected only the bare minimum of the actual scale of the problem associated with these premises. Based solely however on the evidence provided at this hearing, it was quite clear that the staff had issues which they could not deal with. The impact of street drinking and the associated crime which could be linked to the premises at all hours of the day and night reflected negatively on the running of the premises. This raised some questions as to how the premises had been trying, or able to reduce the risk as much as possible to prevent crime and disorder, promote public safety and prevent public nuisance. In addition, there were children who needed to walk past this location and did not want to see drunk people drinking alcohol, littering, urinating against walls, or people getting assaulted. These were some of the same children who had been kept awaken by rowdy behaviour in the evening. For these reasons, Kent Police were seeking revocation of this premises licence, but should the Panel be of a different opinion, it was requested that, as a minimum, the conditions proposed in their submission, and any others deemed necessary, should be imposed.
Mr Kolvin referred to the circumstances and history he had set out earlier and stated that it was clear that management of the premises needed to improve. The licensee had already taken substantial steps to improve the situation and was prepared to take additional measures to make Baba Food and Wine the most conditioned premises in Gillingham town centre, and therefore the best-standard premises. Mr Kolvin reminded Panel members that this was the first review and according to paras. 11.27 and 11.28 of the national guidance, none of the cases justifying revocation of licence on first review, i.e. the premises being used to sell drugs/weapons, for grooming children or gang activities, were applicable to the present review. He assured Panel members that the licensee took these matters seriously and was willing to work in partnership with other parties as he had no intention of coming before the Panel for a second review.
The Chairman thanked everyone for attending and advised that the Panel’s decision would be available in five working days.
1. The Panel considered all the written and CCTV evidence before it and the oral evidence presented by the applicant for the review the supporter of the review, and the legal representative of the premises.
2. In reviewing the incidents referred to by the police in their evidence and having regard to the previous good record of the premises, the Panel was not satisfied that revocation of the premises licence would constitute appropriate and proportionate remedial action. The Panel therefore agreed to impose additional conditions on the premises licence to assist in the promotion of the licensing objectives. In determining the additional conditions, the Panel considered the additional conditions proposed by the police in their application for review (should revocation not be agreed) and those put forward by the legal representative of the premises at the hearing.
3. The Panel unanimously decided to add the following additional conditions to the premises licence for the Baba Food and Wine, 75 High Street, Gillingham, Kent, ME7 1BJ, which it was satisfied were appropriate and proportionate for the promotion of the licensing objectives.
1) No beer, lager, cider or spirit mixer above 5.5% ABV to be supplied.
2) No alcohol products to be advertised in the frontage of the premises including A boards.
3) To be added to existing Condition 5 - CCTV should cover the area immediately outside and to the front of premises. A CCTV monitor to be positioned and maintained to enable it to be reviewed from the counter.
4) All alcohol displays to be positioned to be visible from the counter.
5) All alcohol products to be labelled with the name of the premises.
6) All alcohol products to be placed in bags showing the name of the premises.
7) No alcohol to be sold to known street drinkers, persons outside the shop causing nuisance, anti-social behaviour, noise nuisance, disturbance, criminal activity, or anyone notified by the police.
8) An external notice to be displayed stating that alcohol may not be consumed on the street and sales may be withheld if it is.
10) An SIA door supervisor to be at the premises between 2300 hours and 0600 hours.