HE named his shop after a prohibition tradition – and now he’s found himself banned from handing out a free drink to his customers.

Darren Hayward manages the Blind Barber at Ashley Road, Poole.

Since it opened six weeks ago, the shop has aimed to hark back to the days of barbers being a social hub, where customers and their mates can relax, enjoy a drink and get their hair or beard trimmed.

To that end, Darren and his colleague Craig Barrett decided to hand out small ‘stubby’ beers to customers while they were waiting to be seen, along with the odd bowl of nuts.

But now he has had what he said were unannounced visits from the council to be told that he must have a licence, because the booze is ‘linked to a sale’.

Darren said it was ironic as he had named the shop after the nickname for barbers that kept a discreet stock of alcohol during the Prohibition era in the USA.

He said: “The main issue for me is that there are other places of business doing it.

“It’s not a raucous place, it’s very much an adult environment and we don’t even have children’s prices.

“If they said to me they were going along Ashley Road and said I was just one they had picked up, I would have said fair enough.

“But when you’re a new business and you get targeted and I say to them it’s commonplace in our industry and they say ‘tell me who it is and we will go and visit them’, that’s not appropriate.”

He added: “Why I thought I wasn’t breaking the law is because we were offering it as a complimentary thing and we were not changing the prices depending on whether they had a drink or not.”

Darren he had been told by the council that people could bring their own drink in, but he couldn’t hand it out.

Frank Wenzel, licensing manager at Borough of Poole, said: “Officers became aware that the premises was providing alcohol to people within the shop and visited the premises as part of our routine Poole Safe visits to see if the alcohol supply was linked to the business. We also have a duty to inform businesses if their actions could fall foul of the law, in this case the legal requirements under the Licensing Act 2003.

“If there’s any suggestion that the supply of alcohol being provided is linked to a sale, even where the person is not charged directly for the drink, then a licence is needed. Under the Licensing Act 2003 'sale by retail' includes providing alcohol to customers as part of a service.”