PUBS, clubs and off-licences in a borough face unannounced spot checks from council officers to check they are operating properly in advance of the Christmas and New Year festive season.

The licensed premises in Ribble Valley will be inspected to make sure they are meeting all their legal requirements regarding issues such as preventing under-age drinking.

The premises will face a rigorous eight-point checklist during the unannounced visit and if they don’t get a clean sheet will have just weeks to get their house in order or face enforcement action.

The inspections will be carried out by Ribble Valley Council licensing staff and Lancashire County Council trading standards officers.

The crackdown – part of Alcohol Awareness Week, which runs from November 15 to 21 – will see licensees and their staff quizzed on a range of issues, such as underage drinking and the Challenge 21 or 25 schemes.

There will be checks on whether staff are properly trained and that their training is documented – and if not they will be signposted to new free online training being provided by Lancashire Trading Standards.

The council officers will also be raising awareness of fake IDs, with examples of what bar and door staff should look out for.

Robert Thompson, chairman of the Ribble Valley Community Safety Partnership, said: “As we return to the new normal and the busy festive period, it is important that licensees ensure their staff training is up-to-date, particularly in underage sales.

“Drinking alcohol brings serious risks to children, putting them in danger of physical and social harm – they are far more likely to injure themselves or someone else, fail to reach their potential at school and engage in anti-social behaviour.

“Prior to the pandemic great progress was made in reducing direct sales to under-18s via the Challenge 21 and 25 schemes.

“But our officers will be out and about over the coming weeks reminding licensees of their responsibilities, particularly in the build-up to the festive season, and ensuring they are still up to speed and legally compliant.”

The Trading Standards training covers how to prevent underage sales, what forms of ID are recommended and how to make a successful check, as well as vulnerability awareness for everyone working in the night-time economy.