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Trading Standards don't have resources to 'police' Spalding daily

Library picture: Asgar Vanparekh and sales assistant Susan Waltham outside Classic News on Sheep Market. (2177521)
Library picture: Asgar Vanparekh and sales assistant Susan Waltham outside Classic News on Sheep Market. (2177521)

A burglary hit Spalding newsagents is for sale with co-owner Asgar Vanparekh blaming the raids and the town being awash with illegal cigarettes.

Asgar and brother-in-law Abbas Lakmidhar will soldier on if no-one buys the 13-year lease on Classic News in Sheep Market, and will definitely keep Spalding News in Market Place.

Asgar says the decision to sell was prompted by four break-ins and unfair competition from so many shops selling illegal cigarettes at £3-£3.50 for 20 while their legitimately obtained packs are priced at £8-£10.

He says police and Trading Standards have seized illegal cigarettes but, as soon as the authorities leave, those sales continue unchecked.

"I don't know how they can get away with it," said Asgar. "We have to abide by all the rules and regulations, and we are trying to do our best but we are struggling."

We asked Trading Standards why they aren't raiding rogue shops every day or shutting them down.

But Trading Standards admitted they don't have the resources to 'police' Spalding at that level when there's a similar problem in other county towns.

Head of service at Lincolnshire Trading Standards Mark Keal said: "We do target businesses that trade in illicit goods including tobacco and cigarettes and we aim to preserve a level playing field where legitimate and law-abiding businesses are not disadvantaged in any way."

He pointed to January's successful prosecution ofthe boss of Nasza Biendronka, the shop next door but one to Classic News, but Asgarpreviously criticised the £2,600 court bill as too lenient.

Mr Keal said: "I have a great deal of sympathy for this gentleman (Asgar) and in an ideal world the service would devote more resources in tackling the illegal trade in Spalding, however in reality we are faced with similar stories in other towns across the county and we currently do not have the resources to carry out investigations so regularly over such a large area."

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