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Club booze ban over WKD sting; ALCOPOPS SOLD TO 15&16-YR-OLDS.

Byline: RICHARD EVANS

A CLUB which twice sold alcopops to teenagers will be forced to close for two weeks.

The RAOB Club in Llandudno was caught out by a police testing purchasing sting which sent 15 and 16-year-old girls undercover to buy drinks.

On two separate occasions staff sold three bottles of vodka-based drink WKD to the youngsters.

The Madoc Street club, run by the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes, was yesterday criticised both for serving children and for not operating strictly enough.

A licensing hearing yesterday heard staff had too often allowed non-members into the private members club to buy alcohol.

The club was slapped with a two week suspension of its licence to sell alcohol, along with other conditions - like getting all members to sign in and be issued with swipe cards.

Speaking after the verdict at Conwy County Council's licensing sub-committee, cabinet member for regulatory services, Cllr Phillip Evans said such breaches wouldn't be tolerated.

"I welcome the decision of the committee to take a firm line where under age sales of alcohol are concerned," he said. All licensees should be aware that the licensing authority view these sales with increasing concern. If such sales continue the committee will be stronger in its sanctions."

Police carried out the test purchases as part of Operation Punnet at just after 10pm on Friday, February 19 and just before 8pm on Saturday, February 26.

The first time, the barman, a man in his mid-40's served a child with three bottles of WKD. On the second occasion a female member of staff served a teenager with three bottles of WKD. Trading standards officers were present on both occasions.

The club initially avoided prosecution by agreeing to close for 48 hours on March 30, but yesterday's hearing followed an application to Conwy by North Wales Police to review the premises' licence.

The club, known locally as 'The Buffs', agreed it would now implement a swipe card entry system to be assisted by CCTV. A steward will also watch the door and the club promised staff have already been retrained.

As part of the licence review the club is also now required to document members' and guests' visits in a signing-in book. The club must also must employ registered door staff on Saturday nights after 8pm.

It must have one door supervisor for every 100 guests at functions, adopt a policy to challenge any punter under 21 and have its swipe card system approved by police.

Roly Schwarz, North Wales police's enforcement officer for Conwy and Denbighshire, criticised the club's lax policies and said rules must be obeyed.

"The club is meant to be run for the benefit of members. What has happened here is not only people under age have been served, but regardless of age non-members shouldn't be able to buy alcohol at the bar. It is OK putting a swipe card system in place but clearly they are not following their own rules. It is a double barrel because the club are afforded special privileges so they don't get the same sort of supervision [as does a pub]. One of the privileges is less supervision so it is even more worrying."

RAOB Club secretary Paul Cimati apologised to the committee, chaired by Cllr Bob Squire and speaking afterwards said the two week suspension of the licence would have financial implications.

"We are sure the card system will be up and running soon and together with the doorman the club should be very secure. There is going to a financial loss, but that is the intention of the ban," he said.

CAPTION(S):

The RAOB club in Llandudno has been given a two-week ban from selling alcohol after two girls aged 15 and 16 were served with WKD alcopops in test purchases
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jun 4, 2010
Words:631
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