Wolverhampton shop where booze sold to underage girls caught with 7,800 illegal cigarettes

A Wolverhampton shop where a stash of 7,800 illegal cigarettes and 300g of tobacco were seized is set to have its licence reviewed.

A stock photo of cigarettes
A stock photo of cigarettes

Batas Supermarket in Lime Street, Graiseley, was also twice caught selling alcohol to underage girls in undercover sting operations.

In a report to the city’s licensing services, section leader Elaine Moreton said the premises had “a history of non-compliance and failure to promote the licensing objectives of crime and disorder”.

“On January 25, 2018, the premises was subject to a review brought by trading standards due to issues relating to illicit tobacco and cigarettes,” she added.

“The licensing sub-committee considered all the evidence before them at the hearing, both written and oral, and resolved to revoke the premises licence.”

The city’s trading standards bosses have called for the latest review after recording a number of breaches of the store’s licence conditions last year.

In a report to the council, Wolverhampton trading standards service’s tobacco control officer Dianne Slack said: “Following anonymous complaints about Batas Supermarket, on July 3, 2019, trading standards conducted an underage test purchase.

"A 15-year-old girl was able to purchase one bottle of Stella Artois lager.

“An officer from licensing on the same day was able to purchase two single cigarettes, contrary to the Standardised Packaging of Tobacco Products regulations.

“On September 4, 2019, trading standards attempted a test purchase of illicit tobacco at the premises. An 18-year-old apprentice was able to purchase 20 Richmond cigarettes that were not in plain packaging, for £3.50. These were subsequently confirmed as counterfeit.

“On September 24, trading standards received more intelligence that counterfeit, foreign or non-UK duty paid tobacco was available for sale from Batas after 4pm.

“On September 26, a 15-year-old volunteer was able to purchase a large bottle of Smirnoff.

"A 16-year-old boy was served with illicit cheap white cigarettes and an 18-year-old boy was able to purchase a single can of Kestrel lager at 9 per cent ABV and a packet of counterfeit Richmond cigarettes for £3.50,” she added.

“To sell a single can of high strength alcohol above 6.5 per cent ABV is a breach of the condition listed on the premises licence for Batas Supermarket.

“On September 27, trading standards exercised an entry warrant at Batas Supermarket. A holdall and a green shopping bag were discovered containing 7,800 illicit cigarettes and 300g of hand rolling tobacco behind the counter.”

Proprietor, premises licence holder and designated premises supervisor Ghai Rashid Majeed was not present during the inspection, Ms Slack said.

“The tobacco products were suspected of being non-duty paid and were subsequently seized in addition to all cans and bottles of beer, lager and cider with an ABV above 6.5 per cent.

“The seized tobacco goods are known as ‘foreign cheap whites’, and includes brands such as Minsk, Fest and NZ which are foreign brands brought into the UK illegally specifically to be sold on the black market.”

Amy Baker, Wolverhampton Council's health improvement officer added: “Public Health have very serious concerns regarding the significant amount of illicit tobacco and cigarettes seized.

“With several breaches of the licensing conditions reported in addition to the underage sales of alcohol, Public Health is not reassured that the business is operating in adherence to the Licensing Act and therefore supports trading standards request to review the current licence.”

A decision on the current licence will be made by the council’s Statutory Licensing Sub-Committee on Friday.

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