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Licensing review after illegal immigrant working at Sutton Bridge shop sold alcohol to 15-year-olds

The future of a village off-licence will be determined at a meeting next week after an illegal immigrant working there sold alcohol to two 15-year-olds.

South Holland District Council's Licensing Authority committee will hear on Wednesday that stringent conditions were put in place at City Stores in Sutton Bridge after the exact same incident happened in 2011.

Lincolnshire Police has asked for the premises licence review over the Bridge Road store after conducting a test purchase operation there with Trading Standards on Tuesday, August 24.

City Stores in Sutton Bridge
City Stores in Sutton Bridge

Two 15-year-old volunteers were tasked with trying to buy alcohol in premises throughout the district where there had been issues with alcohol-related anti-social behaviour from youths.

They visited City Stores at 6.30pm and were served a bottle of 4% pink Hooch. The man who served them asked for ID, but sold them the alcohol when they said they’d left it at home.

Immigration checks showed he was Sri Lankan, his visa had expired in 2014 and he was therefore in the country illegally, with no right to work. He was arrested and transported to custody to be dealt with by the immigration service.

He told officers he was a relation of the premises licence holder and had been working there since November 2020, being paid a percentage of the shop's takings during an estimated 50 hour-week. He lived in a room in the rear of the shop premises.

Arumugam Sarankan, who has been the premises licence holder since February 2021, told police he was in London at time of visit and attended the premises once a week.

The panel will hear that the licensing sub-committee has put special conditions on the shop's licence after a hearing in 2011 when a previous illegal worker had sold alcohol to under-age test purchasers.

On the latest visit, the shop also had no personal licence holder authorisation, no incident and refusals log, no age verification policy, its staff were not aware of responsibilities regarding alcohol sales, there had been no staff training, CCTV did not conform to police specification and they were not operating 'Challenge 25'.

After hearing all the evidence the panel will be able to: modify the conditions of the licence; exclude a licensable activity from the scope of the licence; remove the designated premises supervisor; revoke the licence; or leave the licence in its current state.

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