Help for Heroes fundraiser’s bid to serve mulled wine on March charity stall foiled by licensing laws

EAGLE-eyed markets manager Mike Chapman foiled a charity fundraiser’s bid to serve mulled wine to Christmas shoppers by pointing out it broke a ban on alcohol in public places.

Debbie Smith says she has been left heartbroken after her attempts to support Help for Heroes were jeopardised by council licensing laws.

“The kind of people I would be serving are not going to have a glass of mulled wine and then go off and break a shop window,” she said.

But Mrs Smith still plans to go ahead with her stall on March Market Place tomorrow – and the 15 bottles of mulled wine will be used as tombola prizes.

“It is heartbreaking because I have spent two months organising this,” she said.

Mr Chapman, markets manager for Fenland District Council, who read about the mulled wine in last week’s Cambs Times, contacted Mrs Smith to warn her she would need a licence – and that could take up to 10 days.

Mrs Smith, 33, who has spent �100 on public liability costs, a raffle licence and paying for a criminal record check, added: “It is a joke. It is making things really difficult for people who want to raise money.”

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A council spokesman said if Mrs Smith had told them earlier these difficulties could have been avoided.

“Once we were made aware of exactly what she had in mind, we pulled out all the stops to help her,” he said. “But the fact is that we have to abide by the law.

“Anyone who wants to hold a street collection or raffle has to have a licence. That normally takes two weeks to process but in this case we managed to rush it through in a few days.

“We’re pleased to say that she can go ahead with virtually everything she wanted for her event.”

However the sale or consumption of alcohol in the town centre is banned and without police approval this could not go ahead.

The spokesman said: “We are sorry about any confusion that has arisen and we wish Mrs Smith every success on the day.

“We hope a lot of people will turn out to support the wonderful cause she is promoting.”

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