A crackdown on shops selling illegal booze and tobacco appears to be having an effect, we can reveal.
At least eight off-licences have lost ther licences to sell alcohol over the last 12 months, with some having changed ownership and another appearing to have shut down completely.
The Free Press went to Gosberton Market, Spalding Road, on Sunday, less than three weeks after its premises licence was revoked by South Holland District Council’s licensing authority after a hearing on February 3.
Shutters were down at the off-licence. located between Gosberton and Surfleet, which was raided by police and Lincolnshire Trading Standards officers on November 23 last year.
After hearing that more than 1,500 illegal cigarettes and nearly 180 suspicious bottles of wine were at the shop during the raid, the licensing panel said: “There is an extensive history of the premises licence holder failing to comply with the conditions upon the premises licence.
“The licensing objectives expect the licence holder to promote the prevention of crime and disorder which clearly is not the case when he (Ali Saied Taha) has accepted his involvement in criminal activity.
There have been a number of alcohol licenses revoked in the Spalding area as a result of the seizure of illicit cigarettes during joint operations between trading standards and the policeAndy Wright, principal trading standards officer at Lincolnshire County Council
“The decision was taken to revoke the premises licence.”
The Free Press checked with the district council as to whether shop owner Ali Saied Taha would be appealing against the decision, but it had heard nothing from him yet with two more days left to do so with magistrates.
Similarly, there was no sign of activity at Liudwai off-licence in High Street, Holbeach, which lost its licence last November after a 16-year-old police volunteer was able to buy four cans beer there on September 11, 2015.
Meanwhile In Spalding, two shops that had lost their licences to sell alcohol appeared to be complying with the restriction.
Europe Store in Holbeach Road and Global Foods in Winsover Road, which lost their premises licences in August and September last year respectively, had no alcohol on sale when the Free Press visited both stores in Friday,
Andy Wright, principal trading standards officer at Lincolnshire County Council, said: “In the past few weeks, there have been a number of alcohol licenses revoked in the Spalding area as a result of the seizure of illicit cigarettes during joint operations between trading standards and the police.
“Trading Standards Officers are currently investigating criminal offences relating to these illicit cigarettes and criminal proceedings may result.”
Within the last four weeks, three more shops in Spalding have seen their alcohol licenses revoked and only one has signalled their intention to appeal.
Saman Ahmad Mahmood of Nasza Biendronka in Sheep Market, Spalding, is appealing after more than 2,240 illegal cigarettes were found during a joint raid on December 3 last year.
During a licensing panel hearing last month, Sgt Kim Enderby of Lincolnshire Police said: “It was unacceptable criminality, using the shop as a front.”
A South Holland District Council spokesman said: “At this stage, we are just watching with interest to see how our campaign against illegal alcohol and tobacco sales develops.”
Meanwhile, the Baltic and Winsover off-licences in Winsover Road were banned from selling alcohol after hearings two weeks ago, although there is no word yet whether premises licence holder Karwan Ahmad is to appeal.
Finally in Bourne, a takeaway which lost its licence after it was found to have four illegal immigrants working there has changed hands.
Aroma Spice in North Street had its premises licence revoked last March after a visit by South Kesteven District Council (SKDC) and Home Office Immigration Enforcement officers two months earlier.
It now operates as Gurkha 91 for which an alcohol licence was issued by SKDC on October 23 last year.
But Mark Jones, SKDC’s business manager for neighbourhoods, said: “Our licensing committee and officers work in conjunction with Lincolnshire Police and other bodies to uphold the law to ensure alcohol licence rules are always strictly adhered to.
“Any breaches of licences are always judged on their merits by the committee who will impose the necessary sanctions if deemed necessary.”