Bognor Regis store’s licence is revoked

A convenience store in Bognor Regis had had its alcohol licence revoked.

Arun District Council made the decision after an investigation by West Sussex County Council trading standards officers.

Nareman Ahmed, the licence holder, has been given 21 days to appeal after the officers found he was in possession and sale of illegal tobacco at his Euro Express store in Canada Grove.

In March 2015, more than 400 packets of cigarettes and six pouches of loose tobacco were discovered in Mr Ahmed’s store, as reported. The officers discovered the items were kept in a secret compartment, within the ceiling, that could be operated by an electronic device to give staff access.

Later that month, an undercover officer revisited the store and bought four packets of counterfeit cigarettes.

As Mr Ahmed was no longer promoting the licensing objectives at these premises under the Licensing Act 2003, Arun’s licensing sub-committee decided to revoke the licence last week.

Mr Ahmed denied responsibility and blamed an employee for the two incidents.

Richard Sargeant, a team manager for trading standards, said: “Cheap, illicit tobacco can be attractive to those on low incomes, including young people, who are among the priority groups we are particularly keen to support to not start, or to give up smoking.

“Counterfeit cigarettes that do not self-extinguish are dangerous and have in the past led to house fires. “We are grateful to consumers and local businesses who have supplied valuable information and we are committed to tackling this illegal trade”.

Cllr Terence Chapman, Arun’s cabinet member for environmental health, said: “It is clear from the result of this hearing and the revocation of this licence that both the district council and trading standards take unlawful activity very seriously.

“The licensing sub-committee heard all the representation and on the balance of the evidence provided to them, made a firm decision based on the seriousness of this case.”

Cllr David Barling, West Sussex County Council’s cabinet member for residents’ services, said fake and illegally imported tobacco could harm people’s health and legitimate traders.

“These products help fund organised crime and we are sending out a clear message to businesses we will take robust action to remove illegal tobacco.”