Stalybridge store given final chance over underage sales

A STALYBRIDGE store has been given one last chance after selling cigarettes and alcohol to underage people.

 

Jit’s Super Shop on Market Street served schoolchildren with cigarettes and youngsters were caught with alcohol having been bought from the premises.

 

But Tameside Council licensing chiefs stopped short of revoking its permission to sell them, instead suspending it for two months.

 

However owner Jeitan Panchani was told of the consequences of any further breaches in no uncertain terms.

Jits Newsagent, Market Street, Stalybridge

A hearing of the authority’s Speakers Panel (Liquor Licensing) committee heard they had received several complaints of underage sales over a period of time.

 

Indeed in June, PC Antony Lawton of Greater Manchester Police spotted four youths who admitted purchasing alcohol from Jit’s Super Shop.

 

The panel also heard claims that in October a Tameside Council CCTV operative observed an underage youth enter the premises and leave with single cigarettes.

 

Trading standards staff found Mr Panchani breached his licence over CCTV at the shop, which he has owned for 12 years.

 

The hearing also received statements from both West Hill school and vice-principal of Copley academy, Dan O’Brien, about issues they had with the shop serving their pupils products they should not have.

 

However, Mr Panchani, who told the hearing that revoking the licence would mean he may have to close the store and lose his Oldham home, introduced measures to make sure there can be no repeat.

 

That includes the introduction of a new till system which reminds staff to invoke the Challenge 25 scheme, which means they must ask anyone looking under 25 years of age for ID.

 

And despite scepticism from Tameside Council officers that it was too little, too late, the Speaker’s Panel decided to give Mr Panchani – who sacked the staff member who served the single cigarette – one last chance.

A Council notice was placed in the window of the Market Street store. (Photo by Gemma Carter)

As well as the suspension, it was decided a personal licence holder must be present in the store whenever alcohol is sold and because of the reports concerning schoolchildren, no more than two people under-18 are allowed in, unless one is with a responsible adult.

 

However, chair of the panel, Cllr Dave Sweeton, left Mr Panchani under no illusion.

 

He said: “It should be regarded as the final opportunity for the licence holder to demonstrate he can promote the licensing objectives and reasonably manage a premise of this type.

 

“Any future issues may lead to the licence being revoked. It was a tough decision and anyone seeing the evidence would consider it was a very, very hard one to come to.

 

“We’ve decided that with the right approach and measures in place and the seriousness of these incidents recognised by the owner, we expect this premise to never come on to our radar again.

 

“In that two months you have to get everything and everyone in place to meet the licensing objectives so we never put children in harm.

 

“There’s a long history of issues at the premises regarding age restricted products.

 

“Despite the imposition of conditions in 2019 and provision of advice, there has been no significant improvement in prevention of the sale of restricted products to underage persons.

 

“The panel noted the history of issues at the premises, previous variation of conditions and advice that was provided over the years.

 

“It also noted, with concern, both the recent history at the premises and the health statistics for the borough and the postcode area arising from alcohol consumption and the use of tobacco.

 

“The licence holder has had problems with staff over the years. He has dismissed staff involved in underage sales and had issues with adults purchasing age restricted products for younger people.

 

“While the panel seriously considered revoking the premises’ licence, on balance the licence holder should be given a further, probably final, opportunity to demonstrate that with the additional measures identified, a short licence suspension and some additional conditions, he can manage the premises in a way that prevents underage sales.”

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