A VILLAGE post office could lose its off-licence after a police “sting” caught staff selling drink to youngsters.
Under-age teenagers bought wine and beer from the Tanhills Post Office Premier Store on Kimblesworth Road, Tanhills, near Chester-le-Street, without being challenged.
Tomorrow, Durham County Council’s statutory licensing sub-committee will consider an application from Durham police to review the store’s licence.
Councillors have the power to suspend or revoke the licence, or impose conditions on it.
A report from the council’s director of neighbourhood services, Terry Collins, says the shop failed test purchase operations in July and October last year.
In a witness statement, specialist licensing Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) Michelle Williamson said on the first occasion Sukhdor Singh Sidhu sold a bottle of white wine to a 16-year-old girl.
When questioned, he admitted not asking the girl to prove her age, saying the shop was busy and he was watching a grandchild.
On October 31, PCSO Williamson said shortly after 1.15pm Parminder Kaur sold four pint cans of lager to a 14-year-old boy and girl.
When questioned, Ms Kaur admitted not asking either for proof of age and said while the boy looked under-age, the girl looked 18.
On both occasions, fixed penalty notices were issued.
Police and Trading Standards frequently carry out test purchase operations to prevent under-age sales. Mr Collins’ report added that the police are seeking conditions to be imposed on the licence if it is not revoked.
These include installing CCTV, training staff on alcohol laws, keeping a refusals register and operating Challenge 25 – in which anyone who looks under 25 has to produce official ID to buy drink.
Store owner Pardip Singh Sidhu had been expected to respond to the review before a licensing panel hearing at the start of this month.
However, Mr Sidhu, of Hebburn, South Tyneside, failed to appear at Chester-le-Street Civic Centre and the meeting was adjourned until tomorrow at the Council Chamber, Spennymoor.