A convenience store has had its licence stripped for selling age-restricted products to minors.

The Cost Less Express at 31 South Farm Road, Worthing, had its licence removed by Worthing Borough Council’s licensing and control sub-committee B, after a licence review of the premises was requested by Sussex Police for failing test purchases of age-restricted products.

Following complaints the store had been selling vapes and alcohol to underage teenagers, police said 16-year-old undercover police cadets had purchased alcohol from the store during a sting test-purchase operation, without being ID checked. 

West Sussex County Council Trading Standards supported the police in their request to have the licence removed.

The county council’s trading standards team and police claimed alcohol had been stocked on shelves with drinks for ‘kids’ like soft and energy drinks, had stocked beers exclusively in foreign languages meaning allergy information could not be easily found, and sold illegal vapes of about 16 times the legal size limit.

They also said Challenge 25 signs were either not displayed or not displayed clearly enough, and that staff had told police they had not received mandatory Challenge 25 training – also reporting CCTV cameras had not been working on several occasions when they had visited.

An agent for the licence holder did not deny the licence had been undermined, saying the council should instead pass the licence to a different employee who had been co-running the store for eight months.

The agent said the current licence holder, who was responsible for the breaches, would step down and it would give the council an opportunity to retain the local business whilst modernising and updating its licence.

They said following consultations with police, the premises had improved its operation, saying Challenge 25 signs were now clearly displayed, staff had been trained, illegal products had been removed from the store and the CCTV network had been fixed.

Police said although consultation had been conducted, the action had not been quick enough, them having asked the licence-holder for changes on multiple occasions and not receiving any response or seeing any changes, until they requested the licence be removed.