Chester-le-Street off licence review delayed

A SHOWDOWN between police and an off licence which twice sold alcohol to children in sting operations has been delayed, after its boss failed to show up at a council hearing.

Pardip Singh Sidhu had been expected to respond to a police-triggered review of his licence to sell alcohol at Tanhills Post Office and Premier Store, on Kimblesworth Road, near Chester-le-Street, before a Durham County Council licensing panel today (Wednesday, January 2).

However, Mr Sidhu, of Hebburn, South Tyneside, failed to appear at Chester-le-Street Civic Centre and, following several failed attempts to contact him and establish his whereabouts, the meeting was adjourned.

The three-strong committee considered proceeding in Mr Sidhu’s absence but chairman Councillor David Marshall said he was not comfortable with this.

The hearing is expected to be re-scheduled for later this month.

Durham Constabulary requested the licence review after, police say, staff at the premises sold alcohol to under-age teenagers twice in three months.

Papers published ahead of the meeting include police reports of incidents on July 26 and October 31.

In a witness statement, specialist licensing Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) Michelle Williamson says on the first occasion, shortly before 2pm Sukhdor Singh Sidhu sold a bottle of white wine to a 16-year-old girl.

When questioned, the man admitted not asking the girl to prove her age, saying the shop was busy and he was watching a grandchild.

On October 31, PCSO Williamson says, shortly after 1.15pm Parminder Kaur sold four pint cans of lager to a 14-year-old boy and girl.

When questioned, Ms Kaur admitted not asking either for proof of age and said while the boy looked under-age, the girl looked 18.

On both occasions, fixed penalty notices were issued.

Police asked councillors to impose conditions on the shop’s licence including introducing a Challenge 25 policy, not serving drunks, keeping an incident log and improving CCTV coverage.

When the hearing resumes, councillors could: take no action, modify or change the licence, exclude a licensable activity, remove the Designated Premises Supervisor, suspend the licence for up to three months or revoke the licence.

The premises is currently licensed from 8am to 11pm Monday to Saturday and from 10am to 10.30pm on Sundays.

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