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Staff at Fountain Court Hotel in Hythe served drink to girl who ‘looked 15’

Daily Echo: Fountain Court Hotel Fountain Court Hotel

POLICE have accused a Hampshire hotelier of serving vodka to an under-age girl despite telling her: “You look 15.”

Officers are calling for Seema Gujral to be stripped of her role as designated premises supervisor (DPS) at the Fountain Court Hotel in Hythe.

The incident is outlined in a 73-page report police have presented to licensing staff at New Forest District Council.

It describes a series of test purchases organised by officers checking to see if the hotel served under-age drinkers.

The report says: “On December 15, 2011 a member of staff served the test purchaser with a lager shandy without asking for ID or challenging them regarding their age, and was subsequently issued with a fixed penalty notice.

“On February 16, 2012 the premises failed another test purchase operation.

“The DPS was heard by officers to say to one of the test purchasers ‘You look 15’ before serving them a Smirnoff Ice and Coca-Cola.

“It is clear that the DPS considers the persons to be underage yet serves them an alcoholic drink regardless. This is the strongest example yet that the DPS does not support the licensing objectives and is not a suitable designated premises supervisor.”

The report also cites earlier concerns raised by police following visits to the hotel in April and July last year.

It adds: “The DPS has been given ample opportunity to rectify the working practices at the premises but has failed to do so.

“It is considered that Seema Gujral is not suitable for the role. An application for a review is therefore submitted, with a view to removing her as DPS.”

Mrs Gujral said: “Two girls walked into the pub, one of whom looked very young and was therefore served with a non-alcoholic drink.

“But because she also paid for her friend’s Smirnoff it was classified as a sale to someone under-age and we were given a fixed penalty of £80.”

Mrs Gujral said staff were now being given extra training.

She also stressed that younger customers were not served alcohol if they were unable to prove they were over 18.

The licensing committee will debate the issue on May 3.

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