Shop faces losing licence after illicit tobacco claims

Licensing: Nasza Biedronka in New Hall Lane
Licensing: Nasza Biedronka in New Hall Lane
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A convenience shop faces losing its licence after investigations by Trading Standards.

Nasza Biedronka in New Hall Lane is to be hauled before licensing chiefs at Preston Council, following claims illicit tobacco was being sold from the premises.

The Trading Standards service is calling on the licensing committee to consider revoking the licence from the shop, citing a “flagrant and systematic” disregard for the rules.

An application to review the licence, currently held by Sarwa Wally Mohammed, says 12 test purchases of incorrectly labelled - smuggled duty-free - tobacco products were made since February 2013.

The application from Nicholas McNamara, principal officer at Trading Standards, said inspections had resulted in four seizures of illicit products, amounting to 569 tobacco products and 14 bottles of vodka.

It said: “Various tactics have been employed to frustrate enforcement, including hiding products in the shop, at a neighbouring house and in a car parked nearby.

“Each time offences are investigated ownership of the business is transferred to a new name. The business is currently trading under its fifth owner since July 2013.

“Investigation and prosecution action has been taken against four defendants, but sales continue - most recently in August 2015.”

It said: “Trading Standards say that a lengthy history of illegal activity at Nasza Biedronka represents a flagrant and systematic disregard for the relevant licensing objectives.

“The trade in illicit products is considered to be an integral feature of its business model which has continued, unabated, despite repeated enforcement activity and a regular turnover of ownership and management. Furthermore, it is clear that the premise is not complying with key conditions of its licence, relevant to the protection of children from harm.

“Conditions designed to prevent youngsters from purchasing alcohol are being openly and wilfully ignored.

“Therefore, the licensing committee is encouraged to consider revocation of the relevant premises licence for Nasza Biedronka.”

Staff at the shop declined to comment.