Letchworth shopkeeper calls for action on youths
A SHOPKEEPER facing a licence review for selling alcohol to an underage girl has said he is not responsible for all the problems around a shopping parade. Hitesh Chandarana, joint licence holder of the Grange Wine Store, The Parade, Southfields, Letchwort
A SHOPKEEPER facing a licence review for selling alcohol to an underage girl has said he is not responsible for all the problems around a shopping parade.
Hitesh Chandarana, joint licence holder of the Grange Wine Store, The Parade, Southfields, Letchworth GC, faces the review following a test purchase operation in which a 16-year-old girl was sold alcohol, although two further test operations resulted in no sales.
But Mr Chandarana claims youngsters who congregate around the precinct turn up with alcohol and intimidate people using the shops, and says more action is needed to deal with the problem.
He said: "I know I made a mistake selling alcohol to someone under age, but I am not to blame for everything going on around here.
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"Every night there are youngsters who hang about outside my shop. Some already have alcohol on them and you can smell marijuana. I have called the police on a number of occasions and the police respond. But they go when the police come and move back when the police have gone.
"When I come to work in the mornings I have to clear away beer cans.
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"I have refused to serve a number of people who have not produced ID and barred people for attempting to buy alcohol for under-18s.
Mr Chandarana's views were backed by the manager of another business on The Parade who said: "There is a massive problem with youngsters around the shops."
North Herts district councillor for The Grange, Simon Bloxham, who is also chairman of the Grange Youth Centre, said there is a problem with youngsters congregating around the shopping precinct, but that steps had been taken to ease the situation..
"It is a problem on that part of the estate, but only on that part," he said.
"The council has put a lot of effort and money into the area. There is a park at the back of the shops and a community centre, and we try to get youngsters involved before they start getting into trouble.
"But there are young adults who congregate around the shops and that can be unnerving for people.
"Unfortunately, the police and council's hands are tied because these people are not doing anything illegal."
A spokesman for Hertfordshire Police said they received a small number of calls from members of the public in relation to concerns about anti-social behaviour.
She added: "Where appropriate officers are sent to the area and deal accordingly. Working with the community, a priority has been set to tackle anti-social behaviour in this area and we will continue to work with trading standards to address the issues of underage drinking."
What do you think? Is there a problem on The Grange estate and, if so, could more be done to combat it. Post your comments on www.thecomet24.co.uk