SANDWELL TO URGE HOME OFFICE ON UNDERAGE DRINKING POWERS- Sandwell Council
Sandwell’s health chief is writing to the Home Office to ask when new powers will come into force to help permanently close down shops and bars that sell alcohol to children.
Councillor Paul Moore, Sandwell Council’s cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said he was urging the Government to honour a pledge to bring in powers for councils and the police to permanently shut down businesses persistently selling alcohol to underage drinkers.
Since the Licensing Act came into force almost eight years ago, Sandwell has conducted more reviews for underage sales following test purchases by trading standards than any other local authority.
Councillor Moore said: “We’ve been campaigning hard for these new powers to help protect our young people and our communities – and I am writing to the Home Office to ask when the Government plans to bring them in.
“We are the leading authority in the country for carrying out licence reviews for underage drinking – this shows a firm stance we take.
“Each case is judged on its merits – but we’ve generally taken a ‘three strikes’ approach. This involves putting conditions on premises at the first and second hearings and, in some cases, revoking licences the third time they come before the panel.
“What we often then see is new applications put in for those places where the licence has been revoked, under apparently ‘new’ owners. And there has been nothing to prevent a ‘new’ application from being lodged immediately so the premises simply carries on selling alcohol.
“We want the powers to make sure premises are shut down permanently.”
Last year, the council held 14 licence reviews for underage alcohol sales following test purchases carried out with volunteers aged under 18.
Council officers also carried out nearly 250 visits to businesses to give advice on not selling alcohol to underage drinkers – or to adults who may be buying booze for young people.