Licence review for Gosberton shop over illicit cigarettes and booze

Illicit wine ANL-160128-173505001
Illicit wine ANL-160128-173505001
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A Gosberton shop that was found with illicit cigarettes and alcohol on the premises faces a licensing hearing on Wednesday.

A panel convening at South Holland District Council’s offices in Spalding will hear that a joint raid on Gosberton Market by Lincolnshire Police and Trading Standards on November 23 found smuggled, counterfeit or stolen property and breaches of the premises licence.

As a result the police have serious concerns about the management of the Spalding Road convenience store and have successfully applied for the hearing to review the licence.

The shop is open all week, 8am to 10pm and sells alcohol, food and general goods and has been managed by premises licence holder and supervisor Ali Saied Taha since February 2012. He also owns the adjoining hand car wash.

The panel, made up of three district councillors, will hear that police first attended on July 22 while Mr Taha was out of the country, and licence breaches were found, which they informed him of over the phone and by letter.

On November 23 police returned with Trading Standards officers and found the following breaches: only two of the stipulated six CCTV cameras were working; there were no crime and disorder records; no evidence of staff training; no notices to ask customers to leave quietly, to discourage people from gathering outside or to indicate that alcohol cannot be bought for or by under-18s.

Trading Standards then searched the stock room and Mr Taha’s vehicle and found 1,529 contraband cigarettes and 650g of tobacco in holdalls and suitcases. Some had failed ignition propensity tests.

He claimed he had bought them in this country for his own use and received police cautions for unauthorised licensable activities and for keeping unlawful goods.

There were also 179 suspicious bottles of red and white “Italian” Cassaldivino and Terre D’Italia wine for sale at £2.99, with labelling spelling mistakes, uneven labelling and different fill levels. The wine was actually bottled in Slovakia, where authorities have confirmed it may not be Italian.

In a statement, one of the Trading Standards officers says: “The criminal activities identified serve to show this is not a convenience store supporting the community but an organised operation able to source a variety of illicit products to con and endanger the local community.”

The panel can decide to: modify licence conditions; exclude an activity from the licence; remove Mr Taha; suspend the licence for up to three months; revoke the licence; do nothing.