Court costs cut into Costcutter profits

 

The profit made on a single bottle of Becks beer was wiped out, many times over, for a Thornton Heath shopkeeper when he was fined for selling alcohol to two under-age customers.

Pleading guilty at Croydon Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday (26), Muhammad Mazhar Sidhu, the licence holder of Costcutter, Norbury Road, was fined £325 and ordered to pay £2,529.50 in costs, and a £33 victim surcharge, totalling £2,887.50.

The court heard that, as part of a test-purchasing exercise, a boy and girl, aged 14, went into the store on 25 September, selected the bottle of beer from the shopfloor display, and took it to the counter. Taking the money, the sales assistant failed to ask for proof of the customers’ age, and the purchase went through. That sale cost the assistant an £80 fixed-penalty notice at the time of the offence.

The test-purchasing exercise was organised by Croydon Council’s trading standards department, and the youngsters were accompanied by a TS officer who witnessed the sale

As the premises licence holder, with responsibility for the actions of his staff, Sidhu was liable for the offence. Additionally, he is the director of Amer Food & Wine Ltd, which traded as Costcutter, a franchise.

Councillor Mark Watson, cabinet member for communities, safety and justice

“It’s quite frustrating that, despite all the information and advice offered to shops across the borough, and the free Do You Pass? training available from our trading standards department, we’re still getting cases of the sale of age-restricted goods to young people.

“It’s impossible to overestimate the importance of traders, especially sole traders, taking advantage of all the help that’s offered to them.

“Apart from the traders’ obligation to abide by the laws around such sales, they have a moral obligation to safeguard those youngsters from the possible consequences of making a quick buck by selling alcohol, tobacco goods or knives to under-age customers.

“I’d urge all the borough’s traders to take heed of the heavy fines and legal costs that follow when our officers catch them making these illegal sales, and realise that it simply isn’t worth the risk.”

Traders keen to take part in forthcoming Do You Pass? training sessions can get further information at www.tradingstandards.uk/events/doyouPASS.cfm

Space is limited, so be sure to book early. The next sessions are on the following dates.

•           Thursday 21 July – 10am to 12.45pm; 1.15 to 4pm.

•           Thursday 27 October – 10am to 12.45pm; 1.15 to 4pm.

•           Wednesday 25 January 2017 – 10am to 12.45pm; 1.15 to                  4pm.

As indicated, each session runs for approximately 2 hours 45 minutes, and includes a 30-minute multiple-choice exam. These courses are offered free of charge and are available only to small or medium-sized Croydon-based businesses.

Unique to Croydon, the sessions will also feature a short presentation from Public Health Croydon entitled Protecting children and young people – everyone’s business.

The council’s trading standards team conducts under-age test purchasing sessions using young volunteers aged between 14 and 15.5 years old. If you fall within that age group, or know somebody who does, based in Croydon, and who would like to become a volunteer test purchaser, call 020 8407 1311 or email trading.standards@croydon.gov.uk

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