Brierley Hill High Street shops closed until summer after illegal tobacco sales
Five high street shops caught selling illegal tobacco in Brierley Hill will stay shut for another three months – after crime dropped when they were closed.
Dudley Council has won a court order to keep Eazy Shop, Day 2 Day, Istanbul, Polo Mini Market and ASA Mini Market, all based on the High Street, shut until the middle of May.
A three-month closure order – the first of its kind in the country – had initially been imposed by the courts in November last year on the five shops.
It came after a trading standards investigation uncovered a bank of evidence they were all dealing in illegal tobacco.
That closure order has now been extended by a further three months by a court order imposed last week.
It was backed by West Midlands Police, who told the court violent crime had dropped by 16 per cent and general crime 12 per cent in the Brierley Hill area since the original closure order was imposed.
One shop, Day 2 Day, unsuccessfully opposed the extension of the closure orders.
Councillor Nicolas Barlow, cabinet member responsible for trading standards, said: "We are really pleased the court has granted us this extension.
"The illegal tobacco trade is often linked to other criminality, so it is no surprise to see crime has fallen since we shut these shops down.
"As an authority we remain committed to regenerating Brierley Hill High Street and supporting those traders who are working hard to earn an honest living.
"The extended closure period will allow the council to work with the landlords of the premises, to ensure new tenants are found who are not associated with illegal activity."
He added: "This is a ground-breaking case, which has seen our trading standards officers work extensively to build up a bank of evidence against these five shops which have continued to flout the law and sell illegal products on the High Street."
The original closure order was the first case of its kind in the country where a council used its powers to take five shops to court at the same time.