Kingswinford store has licence transfer application refused

A store where a failed asylum seeker was previously found working onsite has had an application to transfer its premises licence to a new owner refused.

Spar Store, Lapwood Avenue, Kingswinford, Dudley. Photo: Google Street View
Spar Store, Lapwood Avenue, Kingswinford, Dudley. Photo: Google Street View

The Spar shop, in Lapwood Avenue, Kingswinford, last year had its permit to sell alcohol revoked, after a routine test purchase in which lager was sold to a 15-year-old boy.

The exercise led to the discovery of an Afghan national who entered the country illegally in 2017.

An appeal against the December 2019 decision was lodged and is due to be considered by the courts in the New Year.

In the meantime, Dudley licensing chiefs had this week been asked to consider applications for the variation of designated premises supervisor and the transfer of the premises licence into the name of Rajinder Singh Kapoor.

These was rejected at a meeting on Tuesday, following objections from the police.

The force had urged the council to reject the requests, citing concerns that during a meeting last week Mr Kapoor had seemed to lack understanding of licensing conditions or the past history.

It was also stated that some conditions – relating to CCTV and the store’s refusal register – were still not being complied with during a visit to the business on Monday.

Concern

Katie Turley, from Dudley Police, said: “We are not satisfied that [the applicant] is not linked to the previous management regime, furthermore given the history of the premises and the ongoing appeals … we need to be satisfied that the applicant is adhering to the conditions of the premises licence.”

She said that the meeting last week and the visit a few days later had given cause for concern.

Kerry Mullings, from the council’s licensing team, said the refusals register – which must be checked on a weekly basis – had not been kept up-to-date.

In addition, there were concerns that the CCTV system “wasn’t working properly” when a member of staff had tried to give a demonstration during Monday’s visit.

Duncan Craig, acting for the applicant, said there was no evidence of a link with the old management and argued the council should only follow the police objection if they felt there were “truly exceptional circumstances.”

“As you’ve heard from West Midlands Police [Mr Kapoor] is of good character, he’s got no criminal convictions.

“It is correct that he lives in London but he has bought these premises and is intending to spend two to three days a week at these premises, which is not in any way inconsistent with the responsibilities of a licence holder and/or a designated premises supervisor.”

He said that while Mr Kapoor had been involved in the trade for 10 years he reiterated there was “no connection at all” with the previous owners.

“Sometimes that’s, speaking frankly, not always the easiest thing to prove. You’re being asked to prove a negative. How can you prove you don’t know somebody?”

Responding to concerns from the licensing team, he said the applicant admitted he should have made himself more aware of the conditions but had “taken steps” to do so.

A council spokesman has confirmed that the applications have been rejected by the committee, with the written notice to be published online in due course.

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