STUBBED OUT: Preston corner shop in smuggled tobacco allegations

CLAIMS: The Ribbleton Lane shop
CLAIMS: The Ribbleton Lane shop
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  • Police say illegal tobacco could be bought in shop car park
  • The claims were set to be heard at a meeting at Preston Council on Monday
  • The hearing didn’t go ahead after the premises licence holder surrendered his licence
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A convenience store can no longer sell alcohol or cigarettes after the licensee walked away from the business – following allegations of back-door sales of smuggled tobacco.

Police claim cheap tobacco was being sold from the car park behind the Ribbleton Lane store, previously part of the Costcutter chain. Officers say customers were given tickets in the shop, before then going through the back door to collect the goods from a man waiting in a car.

I’m appalled, and I will be raising this with the community policing team.

Coun Roy Leeming

The claims were set to be heard at a meeting at Preston Council on Monday, where the licence holder was due in front of Town Hall bosses.

But the review hearing didn’t go ahead, after premises licence holder Ali Soran has surrendered his licence.

Mr Soran said he left his job days after the alleged incident took place, and surrendered his licence.

He added: “The tobacco sales were outside the shop, not in the shop.” He also said he wasn’t at the shop on the day in question.

PC Julie Stewart had applied to Preston Council for the review.

Her application claimed the licensing objectives relating to crime and disorder were not being promoted at the store, on the corner of Ribbleton Lane and Skeffington Road.

It said: “There are also concerns about the poor management of the premise, the lack of concern regarding training of staff and concerns about the level of commitment of the designated premise supervisor and premise licence holder.”

The application included evidence of a police and trading standards visit to the shop.

It said: “Mr Soran, premise licence holder and designated premise supervisor, took over the premise at the end of June 2015.

“A DPS interview was conducted and the premise licence conditions were clearly outlined.

“At about 6.50pm on Wednesday July 16, police and trading standards officers attended the premise following information received that cheap, smuggled tobacco was being sold from a vehicle in the car park.

“On attending the premise a male was spoken to and admitted to working at the premise and being responsible for selling the tobacco for the past three weeks.

“On entering the shop the female behind the till also stated that she had worked at the premise for three weeks and was responsible for taking the money for cigarettes and ringing it through one particular till, issuing a ticket to the customer who would them go out of the premise via the rear door to collect the tobacco from the male in the car.”

Coun Roy Leeming, who represents St Matthew’s ward, said he was “appalled” by the allegations.

He said: “There’s an issue with a loss of revenue, an issue because it makes it difficult for honest traders to compete, there’s an issue with the quality of the product which is unregulated.

“I’m appalled, and I will be raising this with the community policing team.”

A council spokesman confirmed Mr Soran had surrendered his licence, and said he had until September 23 to apply for it to be re-instated - with another date to be fixed for the hearing in that case.

Otherwise, anyone who took over at the shop would need to apply for a fresh premises licence.

A spokesman for Costcutter said the shop was no longer part of the Costcutter group, after it left at the beginning of the year.