A BOURNEMOUTH pizza delivery business kept its alcohol licence yesterday despite its owner delivering lager to two 14-year-old girls.

The council’s licensing committee heard that Mark Cater, owner and manager of Centro Pizza in Lansdowne Road, delivered two pizzas and four cans of Carlsberg to the girls at a nearby flat on August 23.

The girls, who were not asked for their age either on the phone or at the door, were volunteers in test-purchasing exercise carried out by trading standards, who requested that the business lose its licence.

Mr Cater claimed he did not know that he was delivering alcohol as he was in a rush to get to a hospital appointment immediately afterwards, having injured his hand with a drill.

He told the committee he had been fighting to get the licence for two years, and when he was confronted by the trading standards officers and realised what had happened he was devastated.

“I made a mistake. I shouldn’t have been working that night,” he said.

“I did not realise what I was delivering, and when the trading standards officer came out time stood still. It was obvious what had happened.”

Philip Day, of Horsey Lightly Fynn solicitors, pointed out to the committee that staff at Centro Pizza had since been re-trained, with new procedures put in place.

But these were described by Mike Darbyshire, from Bournemouth children’s social care, as ‘locking the stable door after the horse has bolted’.

He said: “Centro Pizza have not demonstrated they can fulfil their licence objective to protect children from harm.”

Councillors stopped short of suspending the licence but imposed a new condition that alcohol deliveries should be made in bags clearly marked ‘challenge 25’.

They also removed Mr Cater as designated premises supervisor, meaning he will no longer be responsible for supervising alcohol sales.

Chairman Cllr Andrew Morgan said: “This council takes a very dim view of the sale of alcohol to children.

“We recognise that Mr Cater has experienced remorse for what happened but it is clearly unacceptable.”

Trading standards were also supported by the town centre councillors David Smith, Bob Chapman and Mike Greene.

Cllr Smith, said at the meeting: “I opposed the original application to allow alcohol deliveries and I will always oppose this.

“It is too open to abuse through loopholes and the difficulty of checking every sale,” Cllr Smith added.