Winchester traders furious at 'irresponsible' off-licence.

Traders on Stockbridge Road say their businesses are being affected.

Traders on Stockbridge Road say their businesses are being affected.

First published in News by

AN off-licence is still selling alcohol “irresponsibly”. despite several sting operations, Winchester traders say.

Shopkeepers in Stockbridge Road have continuing concerns about R&K News.

Brian Hayward, owner of Hayward Guitars, said: “At least a couple of times a week, there’s an issue here. You walk into work in the morning and there are guys stumbling out of R&K with bottles of cheap sherry. It’s not what you want to see.”

Paul and Hester Soulsby, landlords of The Albion pub, complained to the city council at the end of August, saying the problems have not gone away. Mrs Soulsby said: “We have great customers and there is a good community spirit with the surrounding business. The one major frustration we have is that the junction is blighted by alcoholics’ antisocial behaviour.”

Mr Soulsby added: “The sole reason it exists on this junction is R&K News selling very strong cans of lager to people who are clearly intoxicated and ill.”

R&K News has twice been caught out selling alcohol to children in the last year. In March, trading standards officers informed the city council, which grants alcohol licences, that they had “no confidence in this business selling alcohol”. Jay Patel and Manoj Patel have been joint licence-holders since June, 2009.

In March this year, trading standards asked the city council to review R&K’s alcohol licence following two undercover operations: in January cider was sold to a 16-year-old girl, while in November 2011 a 16-year-old boy was sold lager.

Following the stings, R&K complied with a notice to cease selling alcohol from March 21-23 and in May a council committee ruled that their licence be suspended a further week, during which locals reported a decline in anti-social behaviour.

Jim Liddiard, of Curb skate shop, said: “When they didn’t have their licence, it was noticeable there didn’t seem to be any trouble. I just think it’s all a bit sad. The reputation of this area is getting better and it’s a little row of shops that’s trying hard to improve what it’s got, but these things are holding it back.”

The council allowed R&K to continue, provided they adhered to certain conditions, such as maintaining a CCTV system at all times, requesting ID from anyone appearing to be under 25 and only selling alcohol when the supervisor is on site.

Nick Sweeten, owner of hairdressers, Nanoo, has been on Stockbridge Road for five years. He said: “We get human faeces around the back of our premises where there’s no CCTV. And we had to ring the police four times the day before yesterday because it was kicking off in the street.”

At the time of going to press, the Patels had not responded to requests for a statement.

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