THURROCK councillors have issued a stern warning to licensees who sell alcohol to underage young people.
The Council’s licensing sub-committee met on Wednesday (31 July) to consider the cases of two off-licences.
Earlier this year, Thurrock Council and Essex Police targeted two areas of the borough checking for off-licences selling alcohol to children.
The Council’s trading standards team worked with underage volunteers in the two areas – Tilbury and Stanford-le-Hope.
The sub-committee considered the future of two stores which had sold alcoholic drinks to children – Civic Square Stores in Tilbury, and Select and Save, Boyce Road, Stanford- le-Hope.
The sub-committee heard that on 8 February, officers checked nine shops in Tilbury using two girls – aged 15 and 16 – to try and buy alcohol. Only one, Civic Square Stores, broke the law, selling the girls a bottle of WKD Original Vodka Red.
No identification was asked for and the girls were not challenged.
A similar joint operation was held on 5 April, this time checking ten shops in the Corringham and Stanford area, this time using the services of a 15-year-old boy. Once again, only one store sold alcohol illegally – Select and Save selling a bottle of WKD
Original Vodka Purple and again failed to challenge the boy.
Members were also told that in follow-up operations in June, both stores properly refused to sell alcohol.
In supporting Trading Standards’ requests for stringent conditions being placed on both licences, a statement from Essex Police said: “The sale of alcohol is a major police concern and does present a significant concern in the Thurrock District.
“Because of their age, children are generally vulnerable, but become far more so if they have consumed alcohol.”
In addition to the conditions, the sub- committee also suspended the licences for two weeks so the conditions could be “implemented and embedded”.
Speaking afterwards, chair of the sub-committee, Cllr Mike Stone, said: “Both the police and trading standards suggested a wide range of additional conditions on the licenses of these premises and that is what we have done.
“We have also suspended the licences so those conditions can be properly put in place – including appropriate training.
“While these two cases were disappointing, it was pleasing to see that the vast majority of stores visited abide by the law.
“I think this shows licensees across the borough should take note. The Council will continue working with the police to carry out these checks and will take appropriate action where necessary.”