When news happens, text SDE and your photos or videos to 80360. Or contact us by email and phone.
Shop owner loses bid for alcohol licence
THE owner of a Southampton shop that repeatedly flouted the law by selling booze to underage youths has failed in her bid to get her licence back.
Councillors had taken away the alcohol licence for the premises at the start of the year after it was found to be selling counterfeit vodka that left a customer sick and with blurred vision.
The bid to ban the sale of alcohol at the shop in St Mary’s Road was strengthened when staff repeatedly failed test purchase operations, where teenage girls were purposely sent into the shop and successfully bought drink.
Southampton Magistrates’ Court heard how the store had initially had its licence revoked for three months as a deterrent and to allow the owner Sara Woldemichael, to take measures including installing CCTV.
The 27-year-old, who runs the business with her husband Akilu Alem, was also warned the licence would be taken away if she committed further offences.
But the court heard how despite this, one test purchase operation still failed, even after that review had taken place.
Peter Savill, representing Southampton City Council, said licensing objectives had been undermined and the problems at the shop had “continued unabated”.
He added that any responsible licence holder would have been “highly suspicious” of anyone offering to sell them vodka from the back of a van.
Paul Hester, representing Ms Woldemichael, of Regents Park Road, Southampton, said his client did not dispute she had committed many breaches but said she was “looking for one last chance”.
He said Ms Woldemichael had started the business from scratch with her husband, with whom she has a two-year-old child and one on the way. Her family relied heavily on the income, with up to 70 per cent of her weekly takings – which varied between £5,000 and £6,000 – coming from the sale of alcohol.
Chair of the bench Susan Williams, however, ruled there had been “a disregard” for licensing authority objectives, aimed at keeping the public safe, and the city council was right in removing Pound Xtra’s licence.