THE near death of a 14-year-old girl who drank vodka she bought from a convenience store could lead to the shop losing its licence.

Lancashire County Council Trading Standards has submitted an application to Burnley Council to review the premises licence of Lifestyle Express, in Anglesey Avenue, Burnley, following allegations of selling alcohol to underage children. 

Trading Standards said there has been a lengthy history at the store, which is open from 7am to 11pm, of illegal activity including the sale of tobacco and alcohol to underage customers. 

In one incident, a 14-year-old girl was admitted into Royal Blackburn Hospital after consuming a £13 bottle of vodka bought from the off-licence in October 2016, Lancashire Police confirmed.

A report to Burnley Council’s licensing sub-committee said: “A recent history of underage sales of both alcohol and tobacco have been recorded whilst the sale of alcohol to a 14-year-old child ended in near fatal circumstances.”

The girl drank the vodka over a short period of time, fell over and banged her head. She was in hospital for a few days. A police investigation found the vodka had been purchased by the 14-year-old from Lifestyle Express.

The seller and designated premises supervisor Humera Zafar received a fine of £90 and was issued a penalty notice for the sale of alcohol to a person under the age of 18.

The police then visited and checked the shop on a number of occasions.
Their last visit was on November 29, 2017, when the premises appeared to be closed.

In a statement to the committee, licensing police sergeant Jason Middleton said: “Local enquiries revealed that apparently Humera Zafar hadn’t been seen at the shop for a while. 

“This is concerning because she’s the designated premises supervisor for the premises and should be responsible for the day-to-day running of the premises.”

Cllr Charlie Briggs, who represents the area, said he tried to get the licence revoked some time ago following the ‘chaos’ caused by underage children drinking alcohol. He said: “Above the shop there are houses and the kids used to cause havoc, swearing and being nasty.

“It’s gone quiet in the last few months though.”

“There are CCTV cameras in the area now and the police are always monitoring it.

“I’m against any off-licence selling alcohol to underage kids.”

In another police report, a member of the community said the store’s shopkeeper has been selling beer and cigarettes to 14 and 15-year-old children ‘all over Burnley’.

Councillors will now consider revoking the premises licence at Burnley’s licensing sub-committee meeting on Thursday.

The shop could have its licence removed but other options include modifying the conditions of the licence, removing the designated premises supervisor and suspending the licence for a period not exceeding three months. 

The public meeting will be held at Burnley Town Hall tomorrow from 10am.