Northampton town centre shop linked to ‘street drinking’ given alcohol sale ban

The Mini Market
The Mini Market

A town centre shop has had its licence to sell alcohol suspended for four weeks after the council found a shopkeeper had likely sold liquor to drunk people.

Northamptonshire Police called for a Premise Licence Review of the Mini Market on Market Square after “intelligence received” from local business owners and members of the public about street drinking in the area, which the force claimed could be linked to alcohol sales from the shop.

Opening the case in front of the licensing committee at the Guildhall yesterday, PC Chris Stevens said that on June 4 shopkeeper Balasingam Nimalraj served two already “intoxicated” men, who were part of a group of six or seven drinking near the fountain.

The seller was issued a penalty notice for doing so at the time.

Then on September 4, Mr Nimalraj was allegedly spotted by a police officer selling a single can of alcohol to a woman known to officers as being drunk.

A police officer cautioned the shopkeeper.

“Mr Nimalraj initially refused to provide details, but then he did so,” said PC Stevens.

“His reply to the caution was ‘please give me a chance’.”

Licensing consultant Mark Worthington, representing the Mini Market, said the incident in September could not be taken into account as there were no witnesses to the sale and there was no solid proof Mr Nimalraj knew the woman was drunk.

A charge against Mr Nimalraj of knowingly selling alcohol to a drunk person on September 4 was withdrawn by the CPS.

Mr Worthington said the police assertion, that the shop was known to be at the root of a street drinking problem in the area, also could not hold weight.

“Within 300 yards, there are 12 other shops selling alcohol,” he said.

However the licensing committee went on to impose a four week alcohol sale ban on the Mini Market, as well as 10 other measures.

Councillor Christopher Malpas, said: “On the balance of probabilities the current operation of the premises is not promoting the licensing objectives of the prevention of crime, disorder and public nuisance.”

The shop will also not be able to sell beer, lager or cider of six per cent ABV or above, or sell single cans to customers.

The shop must also take steps to curb people gathering outside the premises.

Mr Worthington told the committee that a number of these measures were already in place and signs had been put up at the shop warning customers that drunk people will not be served.