Burnley shop has licence revoked over illicit tobacco and alcohol

Illicit tobacco and alchol was being sold
Illicit tobacco and alchol was being sold

A Burnley shop has had its licence to sell alcohol revoked after a long history of criminal activity at the premises.

The Licensing Sub-Committee of Burnley Borough Council made the decision to revoke the premises licence for Drinks Express, 260 Colne Road, Burnley, at a hearing following an application to review the licence from Lancashire County Council Trading Standards Service.

Lancashire County Council Trading Standards gave evidence that there had been eight separate incidents at the premises over the last seven years relating to illicit tobacco and alcohol.

During one inspection in February 2014, 104 packets of illicit and counterfeit tobacco products were found in a hidden compartment in the store room of the premises, and a Trading Standards officer was assaulted by the staff member when trying to remove these items from the shop.

Further investigations are ongoing following Trading Standards test purchasing operations and inspections carried out earlier this year.

The Sub-Committee also heard evidence from Lancashire Constabulary who fully supported the application, and a representative from Immigration Enforcement explained that an illegal worker was discovered and arrested at the premises in November 2016.

County Coun. Albert Atkinson, deputy leader of Lancashire County Council with responsibility for Trading Standards, said: “We have had 17 seizures of illicit tobacco from Burnley shops since the start of 2017.

"The availability of cheap illegal tobacco contributes to keeping smoking rates high in East Lancashire, while surveys show a higher percentage of child smokers buy illicit tobacco than adult smokers. This licence revocation sends out a message to those operating illegally that Trading Standards will use all available powers to stop such criminal activity.”

The Sub-Committee concluded that the premises had failed to promote the licensing objectives and that revocation of the licence was both necessary and proportionate in the circumstances. No-one from Drinks Express attended the hearing. The store has 21 days to lodge an appeal against the decision.

If you have any concerns about illegal tobacco or alcohol please report the matter to the Citizen’s Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06.