Police oppose Luton shop's bid for premises licence after previously selling cans of super strength beer at £1.25

A Luton town centre shop is applying for a new licence to sell alcohol, after it was previously caught selling cans of super strength beer for just £1.25.

Wednesday, 12th May 2021, 7:30 pm
Updated Thursday, 13th May 2021, 12:42 pm

Webb's News on New Bedford Road, opposite the Galaxy Centre, lost its premises licence in September 2019.

On March 5 of that year, Luton Borough Council's Trading Standards team seized 21 cans of 9% ABV Karpackie beer being sold at just £1.25 a can, instead of the legal minimum of £2.25 (based on the minimum unit price of 50p per unit) .

At the time of their visit, officers found there was no licence holder on site and an Indian student behind the counter was being paid less than the national minimum wage, wih no training to operate the CCTV.

Webb's News on New Bedford Road

The shop was also unable to produce supply invoices showing how the Karpackie beer was obtained.

License holder Kalaimagal Selvaratnam later accepted simple cautions for 17 licensing offences, while her brother, the shop's owner and manager Suppiah Piranavan received simple cautions for six offences.

Now, Bedfordshire Police and Trading Standards are opposing a bid by Mr Piranavan for a new premises licence at Webb's.

Mr Piranavan has laid out extensive conditions to be complied with, should the council grant his request to sell alcohol from 6am to 10pm.

These include a record of staff training, CCTV to be kept for 31 days, supply invoices to be kept, a logbook of refused sales, no beer sales above 5.5% ABV and a challenge 25 policy to prevent sales to teenagers.

He wrote: "This application recognises the issues surrounding street drinkers and the associated problems, and therefore contains measures which are designed to ensure that these premises do not add to the existing cumulative impact.

"All staff involved with the supply of alcohol at the premises will be trained in respect of their legal and social responsibilities whilst doing so.

"Customers shall be actively discouraged from congregating at the front of the premises by staff, who will request them to move on."

In their submissions, Beds Police stated that although Kalaimagal Selvaratnam was the premises licence holder of Webb's News and nearby Paga Superstore in 2019, both shops were in fact owned and managed by her brother Suppiah Piranavan.

PC Darren Welch stated: "It was apparent that Suppiah Piranavan was the person running both stores and Kalamaigal Selvaratnam was merely the DPS (designated premises supervisor) and licence holder in name only."

In February 2020, the premises had made another licensing application, this time in Mr Piranavan's wife's name, which was later withdrawn.

PC Welch wrote: "Mr Piranavan admitted to me that his wife would not have been involved with the running of the store and the application was just in her name.

"Bedfordshire Police submits that this application, although new and has some good conditions proposed, still raises concerns that they will not be adhered to."

The application is due to be considered by Luton Borough Council's licensing committee on Monday, May 17.