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BANNED; Shopkeeper who sold booze to children.

Byline: By Nick McCarthy

A BIRMINGHAM shopkeeper has become the first in the region to be stripped of his drinks licence since new legislation came into force two years ago.

Fasal Bashir, who runs Shaws Nisa shop, in Castle Vale, sold booze to children four times between September 2006 and May this year.

Police launched an undercover operation after catching 16 and 17-year-olds drinking in and near the High Street shop.

They carried out two test operations with trading standards officers using 15 and 16-year-old buyers and the shop served them all without asking for proof of age.

In previous cases shop owners have had amendments made to their licences before being allowed to continue selling alcohol.

But Mr Bashir is the first in the West Midlands and possibly the country to be stripped of the right to sell wine, beer and controversial alcopops because of his blunder.

He told a city licensing committee meeting he was new to the area and had tried to "gain acceptance" after being intimidated by people on the estate.

He told chairman Coun Bruce Lines: "I know it was wrong and I hold my hands up, but we have taken big steps to put things right."

The application to revoke the licence was brought by West Midlands Police, who said the action emphasised their zero tolerance stance on under-age drink sales.

Their legal representative, Lisa Marie Smith, said: "The premises are not operated in a professional manner and there is wilful neglect in failure to implem ent and enforce legislation."

The application to revoke was backed by the Castle Vale Community Housing Association, Birmingham Trading Standards and the Birmingham Safeguarding Children Board.

Simon Cross, from the BSCB, said: "We are concerned that reasonable steps have not been taken to check age or to see evidence of age.

"Our key concern is that the management is inadequate and they are not meeting their responsibility to protect children."

After the hearing Fasal told the Mail he deserved another chance and had already challenged the council's decision to revoke the licence.

He added: "We have already lodged an appeal and we will strongly challenge it because we know we have turned a corner.

"If we fail with the appeal it will have a negative impact on the business and we may even have to shut earlier in the evenings, which could have an impact on jobs.

"I am a management accountant by trade. I know we were wrong, but we have learned a lot and have introduced a number of significant measures that were outlined during the hearing."

Miss Josephs, representing Mr Bashir, argued that the shop had "learned its lessons" and that efforts had been made to improve things, including staff training, posters, till prompts and more interaction with the community.

The committee rejected the representations and Coun Lines added: "The alcohol licence will be revoked in order to protect children from harm and to prevent public nuisance.

"We have considered options to introduce conditions, but we are not satisfied that they will be enforced properly."

Mr Bashir's appeal means he can continue serving alcohol until the review case is heard at magistrates court.

OUR SAY: PAGE 68

CAPTION(S):

BLUNDER... Fasal Bashir.; UNDER-AGE SALES... Fasal Bashir, who runs Shaws Nisa shop in High Street, Castle Vale, right.
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Sep 7, 2007
Words:552
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