A furious business boss says feels he has been ‘hung out to dry’ by council chiefs – after being hit with a licence ban over booze being sold to underage drinkers at his store.
Sim Singh says he has been forced to shut the shop after his alcohol licence was suspended for three months – even though he wasn’t running the premises at the time.
I feel like the council has hung me out to dry.Sim Singh
Sim’s Corner, in Stanhope Road, South Shields, had its licence taken away by decision-makers at South Tyneside Council’s Licensing Sub-Committee last month, with the suspension coming into effect last week after the appeal period expired.
The general dealer and off-licence sold alcohol to minors twice during test purchase stings – with a 1.5- litre bottle of wine being sold to a 16-year-old in the latest incident last August.
Coun Ken Stephenson, who chaired the sub-committee, said: “We will not tolerate the sale of alcohol to young people under 18.”
Mr Singh, 29, says he had leased his store out when the sales took place and now feels he is left with the ‘stigma’ of the booze ban.
He has also hit out at the council for not taking action against the leaseholder at the time.
Mr Singh, who has owned the store for nine years, says he accepts his licence responsibilities but feels he has been made a scapegoat.
He has closed the store until the ban ends on June 29 as alcohol accounts for the bulk of his sales, but he remains unsure if he will open again after being told he faces strict licencing conditions in the future.
He said: “I accept my responsibility as the licence holder but feel the person who was running the shop at the time got off scot free.
“I feel like the council has hung me out to dry. I would never sell alcohol to underage people, but now I have this stigma attached to me.”
Mr Singh says he has already lost £4,000 because of the decision, but puts a higher value on his tarnished reputation.
He has also hit out at Northumbria Police after the force welcomed the council move.
He said: “The police are saying this sends out the right message but the person who carried out the offence is not punished. If I own a gun and someone else uses it to shoot someone, should it only be me punished?”
A South Tyneside Council spokesman said: “When a licence is reviewed responsibility rests with the premises licence holder, in this case Mr Singh.”
No comment was available from Northumbria Police.