Under-age booze sale warning

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LICENSEES who sell alcohol to children are facing tougher penalties following recent changes to the law, Wigan watchdogs warned today.

Trading standards and licensing officers are advising owners, managers and staff of all types of licensed premises to familiarise themselves with the new legislation which comes into effect with the implementation of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011.

Under the new legislation, the maximum fine for “persistently selling alcohol to children under the age of 18 years” – that is on two occasions in a three-month period – has doubled from £10,000 to £20,000.

The new legislation also gives police and Trading Standards officers the power to close premises from two days to 14 days as an alternative to a fine.

Also under the new provisions, pubs, clubs, off-licences and late night takeaways who fail to pay their annual licence fee will face a suspension of their licence or certificate.

In those circumstances it would be unlawful for them to continue trading until the relevant licence fee had been paid.

Julie Middlehurst, Trading Standards and Licensing Manager said: “Where there is a non-payment of fees, Wigan Council is required to suspend a licence or certificate. There is a grace period of 21 days to address any dispute or potential error but if the dispute or error is not resolved during this period, the licence will be suspended, and will only be reinstated when the outstanding fee has been paid.”

Coun Paul Prescott, chairman of the Licensing Committee, said: “Doubling the maximum fine to £20,000 for those premises found to make two under-age sales in a three-month period reflects the seriousness of this offence.

“Whilst we would always wish to support businesses in complying with the legislation, we will come down hard on those that flout the law.”