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Hopes for dodgy licence application go up in smoke
Wednesday 21st November, 2012

The owners of a grocery shop have had their application for an alcohol licence rejected by Wigan Council following objections made by Trading Standards officers who had previously seized two thousand counterfeit cigarettes from the premises.

Members of Wigan Council’s Licensing Sub-Committee reached the decision after hearing from an officer who visited Nally’s Mini Mart on Market Street in Hindley following an anonymous tip-off that the shop was selling illegal tobacco products.

Altogether, a hundred packs of counterfeit and smuggled cigarettes and almost a kilogram of fake tobacco were seized from the premises.

The owner, Wally Rashid, told the Sub-Committee that he had not known about the sale of this tobacco and said he thought it was for the personal use of his business partner, Mr Bakhtyar Mohammed.

The Sub-Committee Members heard that Trading Standards officers visited the shop on 7th August 2012 and questioned Mr Mohammed who at first denied selling illegal tobacco.

However, an inspection of the shop counter revealed a number of packs of duty free tobacco and cigarettes, and in spite of further denials, another discovery was made of duty free cigarettes in boxes hidden from view underneath packs of savoury snacks.

In reaching their decision, members of the Sub-Committee took into account guidance issued by the Secretary of State and the Council’s Statement of Licensing Policy which urges particular caution over the granting of licences to premises where such criminal activity has previously taken place.

The Sub-Committee decided that the applicant was not capable of ensuring the proper control and management of activity on the premises and refused to grant the licence.

Chair of the Licensing Sub-Committee, Cllr Paul Prescott, explained: “It was the decision of the Licensing Sub-Committee to reject the application because we were not convinced that the applicant would take the necessary steps to ensure that criminal activity on the premises would cease. I want to reassure members of the public that we view matters of this nature very seriously".

Julie Middlehurst, Trading Standards Manager said " We are absolutely committed to addressing the availability of illegal tobacco in our Borough and want to warn both businesses and residents who are dealing in such products to be on their guard, as we will take criminal action to curb this problem. Businesses who are licensed to sell alcohol could also find themselves losing their licence if they are found to be selling these products.”

Anyone who wishes to contact Trading Standards in confidence can ring 08454 040506 or email ts@wigan.gov.uk . They can also ring Crimestoppers 0800 555 111.

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