Harlesden off-licence wins battle to sell cheap booze

Police wanted shop to stop stocking high-strength beer

An off-licence in Harlesden has hung onto its licence to sell cheap, high-strength beer.

Brent Police wanted JJ Food and Wine, in Park Parade, to strip its shelves of super strong lager in a bid to stop street drinking in Harlesden.

But last week, during a licensing meeting at Brent Town Hall, councillors decided the shop could continue selling the booze.

Police argued that CCTV had caught a drunk man being served a can of strong beer, over 5.5 per cent, before being stopped and questioned by officers for causing anti-social behaviour.

However, the off-licence’s solicitors said the CCTV could not prove if the man was intoxicated when he was served.

Harlesden is supposed to be an alcohol-free zone but has been blighted by street drinkers over the years.

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Nicola McDonald, licensing officer, said: “The shop is located in a busy part of Harlesden within a controlled drinking zone.

“PCSOs are trying to improve the area and we feel that the off-licence is not co-operating.

“We believe this shop is being managed inappropriately and not in accordance with licensing objectives. Their licence should be revoked.”

But Cllr Dhiraj Kataria (Labour), chairman of the licensing committee, said the off-licence could keep its licence if it installed CCTV at the entrance and at the rear of the shop, adhere to challenge 21 policy at all times and keep a refusal book which will be available on request.

He also warned the licence holder that he would have to “tighten up” procedures at the shop or the off-licence may have another case brought against it.

Speaking after the hearing, Joshua Simons, principal licensee agent for the off-licence, said: “My client has implemented a number of measures, had licensing training and keeps a compliance file.

“We also believe telling shops to not to sell beer over 5.5 per cent is unlawful. Someone could come in and buy a bottle of vodka.

“My client will always work with the police and we believe we have improved the client’s premises.”