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Costcutter in Market Street also cannot sell cans stronger than 5.5%
A Watford convenience store owner blamed for causing anti-social behaviour by selling high-strength lager to street drinkers has had his alcohol licence suspended for a month.
The ban was imposed on the Costcutter store in Market Street following a hearing of Watford Borough Council’s licensing sub-committee yesterday (Wednesday).
A condition has also been imposed on the store’s licence, banning it from selling cans stronger than 5.5 per cent alcohol.
The ruling comes as part of a police crackdown on anti-social street drinkers in the Market Street area.
The hearing was shown CCTV footage of several incidents of street drinkers congregating in Market Street and carrying out anti-social behaviour including one of the men dropping his trousers in close proximity to mothers and children.
The footage of two days in February 2012 shows groups of up to six men and women entering the store and buying high-strength lager and spirits which they then consumed in the street.
An emergency 999 call from a shopkeeper who was intimidated by the behaviour of the group was also played to the hearing.
John Corkett of Hertfordshire Constabulary’s licensing unit said this was the shop of choice for the street drinkers because two other convenience stores nearby operated stricter regulations about serving intoxicated people.
He added that when he and a fellow officer visited the store on several occasions and asked store owner Kuldeep Khaneja to sign an acceptable behaviour agreement to stop selling strong lager and single cans he refused because it would hurt his profits.
The hearing was also told of allegations from a 15-year-old schoolgirl who told police she had regularly been served alcohol in the store and had never been asked for ID.
Mr Corkett said: "We wanted him to co-operate with us to make the area a better place.
"I do hold him responsible [for the behaviour of the street drinkers] because they bought alcohol from his shop then they are seen drinking directly outside his shop.
"We advised him that as designated premises supervisor he should be only too aware of who these people are.
"It appears he is not taking much notice of what is going on around him."
Gill Sherratt of Licensing Matters represented Mr Khaneja in the hearing and accused the police of leading a witch hunt against Costcutter.
She said: "The point here is you are dealing with the problem that you say is with Costcutter but the problem is with the street drinkers.
"Have you ever told Mr Khaneja who these people are? How is he supposed to find out?"
Speaking after the hearing, Councillor George Derbyshire, chairman of the sub-committee said: "Licensees have a responsibility to help protect local residents, workers and children from anti-social behaviour and nuisance such as has been happening in Market Street.
"Selling high-strength drink to street drinkers is not acceptable."
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