Shop is stripped of licence after illicit tobacco claims

Nasza Biedronka, New Hall Lane, Preston
Nasza Biedronka, New Hall Lane, Preston
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A convenience shop has been stripped of its licence after claims of illicit tobacco being sold from the premises.

Bosses at Trading Standards applied for a review of the licence of Nasza Biedronka in New Hall Lane - the first such application made by the service to Preston Council.

This week’s hearing was told there had been four seizures of illicit products from the shop, which has now had its alcohol licence revoked.

Nicholas McNamara, principal officer at Trading Standards, said there had been “criminal behaviour” at the premises, relating to the sale of non-duty paid tobacco products, and a report said investigation and prosecution action had been taken against four defendants.

He said: “Not only is there a loss to the taxpayer, you’re also talking about the unfair competition that’s posed to law-abiding shops in the area.”

Current licence holder Sarwa Wally Mohammed was called to the meeting, represented by solicitor Ian Anderson.

Mr McNamara said: “It isn’t about Mr Mohammed, it’s about the premises and it’s about the crime prevention objective for the wider community.

“The simple fact is the wider community does not benefit from the commission of criminal offences.”

The meeting heard the premises had a “lengthy history” of issues, and Mr McNamara added: “It’s not just about dealing with this and trying to make them better, it’s also about deterring crime.”

Mr Anderson said Mr Mohammed had taken over the licence last March, since which time three offences had been committed when another member of staff was present.

He said there had been no illicit products found since last August and said: “I would suggest that’s because the licence is in the right hands.

“It does take time to turn ships around, but it is being turned around.”

He asked the committee to consider imposing extra conditions or suspending the licence for a period of time, and said: “I would submit, to revoke the licence in the circumstances would be disproportionate and unnecessary.”