Tuesday 16 July 2024
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Shop that sold knives, illegal vapes and cigarettes to children has licence revoked

A shop found selling knives, illegal vapes and counterfeit cigarettes and alcohol to underage shoppers has had its licence revoked.

Buy & Save, an off-licence store in High Street, Stanton Hill, admitted to “substantial failings” before councillors opted to revoke its licence on Wednesday (January 11).

The decision follows a series of visits from Nottinghamshire Police, Trading Standards and council licensing teams between late 2021 and November last year.

The shop had previously been issued with a three-month closure order on December 1 following an Ashfield District Council and police prosecution.

This followed reports of anti-social behaviour at the shop and concerns of illegal items being sold – including to underage shoppers.

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A licensing hearing heard machetes and other knives had been sold to teenagers alongside the sale of illegal, counterfeit cigarettes and alcohol products and ‘non-compliant’ vapes.

These are disposable e-cigarettes with more than 600 puffs which are legally not allowed to be sold in UK shops.

Across two separate visits to the shop, police say more than 1,500 of these items were found inside.

During test visits, age-restricted products were sold by the shop to children.

Bringing the licensing hearing before councillors on Wednesday, Nottinghamshire Police said it had “no confidence” in the shop’s management.

Emma Heath-Tilford, the police’s prosecuting solicitor, said during the meeting: “The reason for a licence revocation over anything else is because of the severity of the combination of all these things.

“They show a lack of management, a lack of control and a lack of respect for the rules.

“Do you really want premises in Ashfield being managed in that way, when they can sell alcohol to children?

“There are clear examples in this of children being able to buy alcohol, buy vapes, buy knives, and all of that undermines the licensing objectives.”

The meeting also heard there was a lack of staff training at the shop, an absence of a ‘Challenge 25’ identification policy and CCTV was not being stored correctly.

Simon King was the legal representative in the meeting who spoke on behalf of the business owner Ravidu Waduge.

He urged councillors to consider a three-month suspension of the licence and said his client accepted there had been failings, which he wanted to address.

Mr King added: “We have no intention of arguing or contesting any of the allegations.

“Mr Waduge accepts his management of these premises has been inadequate at the very least and that there have been serious and substantial failings.

“The closure order was not contested and nor does he contest that the licence should be reviewed.

“He hopes to open the property at the end of the closure period.”

However, the police believed this was not enough given the business will continue to be closed until March 1 at the earliest.

Ms Heath-Tilford added: “You can see efforts made by licensing, police, and trading standards and none of those have worked.

“Why would a suspension of three months be any different? The property is closed for another two months which means it would only take away the licence for about a month.”

Councillors agreed with the police’s case and opted to revoke the shop’s alcohol licence.

Reading the panel’s verdict, a council spokeswoman said: “The decision taken today is to revoke the premises licence.

“[Councillors] considered licensing objectives had been seriously undermined by the way it has been run.

“There have been numerous opportunities to address the issues but they haven’t been taken.”

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