A Spalding off licence which was caught selling counterfeit bottles of whisky and vodka as well as illicit cigarettes has had its licence to sell alcohol revoked.
The action was taken by South Holland District Council’s Licensing Committee after Lincolnshire Police and Lincolnshire Trading Standards requested a review of the premises licence for Europe Store, based in Holbeach Road.
At a hearing on Wednesday, the Committee was told that Police and Trading Standards officers visited the store on June 19 and discovered bottles of Teacher’s whisky on sale with counterfeit labelling.
Non-duty paid bottles of vodka were also found on the shelves and illicit cigarettes were discovered in a box in a toilet room and in a rucksack under a sink in a store room.
Officers seized a total of 79 bottles of alcohol and 1,420 cigarettes from the store.
The drinks had been smuggled into the UK with no Excise Duty paid. The cigarettes were all foreign branded and not compliant with UK safety laws – potentially putting the health of customers at risk.
These products are distributed by criminal gangs via the illegal black marketSergeant Kim Enderby from the Alcohol Licensing Department
Alan Ahmad, the store’s licence holder, claimed the counterfeit spirits were already in the shop when he took over the business and that the illicit cigarettes belonged to a friend.
However, the Committee told Mr Ahmad that he had “seriously breached” the premises licence and “lacked credibility”. Mr Ahmad was given 21 days to appeal the revocation.
Speaking after the hearing, Coun Malcolm Chandler, portfolio holder for licensing, said: “This decision has been taken to protect members of the public and ensure that businesses in the district conduct themselves properly.
“Selling non-duty paid alcohol undercuts law-abiding businesses and foreign cigarettes may not be safe for public use.
“The licensing team will continue to work with licensed premises operators to encourage high quality services and work to the standards of the voluntary Safer Spalding Code of good practice.
“With the support of the other responsible authorities we shall continue work to protect members of the public and promote responsible alcohol retailing across South Holland. The action taken today will send a strong message to those who breach licensing conditions.”
10AM: Spalding store has alcohol licence revoked for selling illegal alcohol and cigarettes.
The Europe Store in Holbeach Road, Spalding has had its alcohol premises licence revoked by South Holland District Council.
The Alcohol Licensing Department from Lincolnshire Police submitted paperwork for a Licence Review Hearing following a visit to the premises in which contraband alcohol and cigarettes were seized.
Yesterday (Wednesday), a hearing was held in front of the council’s Licensing Sub-Committee in which members agreed with the police that the premises had been actively involved in the illegal sale of smuggled products. Because of this they believed the shop was failing to promote the licensing objectives and its licence was revoked.
There is a 21 day appeal process; if no appeal is submitted then the revocation comes into action.
The initial visit was part of a series being conducted by Lincolnshire Police Alcohol Licensing Department in partnership with Trading Standards. These were targeted visits at off licence-style premises aimed at uncovering breaches of the Premises Licence conditions and because there were concerns that premises of this type are being used as an outlet for fake and smuggled products.
Investigations revealed that the items seize at the Spalding store were a combination of smuggled goods and bottles with counterfeit labelling on them.
Sergeant Kim Enderby from the Alcohol Licensing Department said: “Working in partnership with Trading Standards we conducted an investigation which has resulted in the store having its licence to sell alcohol revoked.
“Brands were genuine but paying duty on them had been avoided. The cigarettes were foreign branded, not compliant with the safety laws in this country. None of these products would have been available from a legitimate wholesaler; they are distributed by criminal gangs via the illegal black market.
“The store potentially put the health of its customers at risk, as well as gaining unfair advantage over neighbouring legitimate stores. We are continuing to do visits to stores of this type across the county and I would appeal to anyone with information of this nature to contact us.
“We remain committed to the disruption, investigation and prosecution of all criminal behaviour being conducted on our licensed premises.”