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Kingswinford store still selling booze pending licence appeal

By George Makin | Kingswinford | News | Published:

A store which employed a failed asylum seeker is still selling booze even though its licence was revoked in December.

The Spar Store on Lapwood Avenue, Kingswinford, is now asking Dudley councillors to approve a new designated premises supervisor while it appeals last month’s decision to a magistrates’ court.

While the appeal is being heard, the shop is allowed to continue to sell alcohol.

In December, the authority rescinded the shop’s right to sell alcohol after it heard the sale of four cans of lager to a 15-year-old boy led to the discovery of an Afghan national who entered the country illegally in 2017.

Richard Jones, a senior Trading Standards officer, told the committee the teenager volunteer was able to buy the beer during a test purchase without being challenged or asked for proof of identity of age.

Interviewed later, the cashier who made the sale claimed to be Manderjeet Singh Malhotra who claimed he was only behind the counter for two minutes while helping out in the shop.

He told Trading Standards officers that he originally came from Afghanistan and had fled the country.

He also revealed that after flying to France, he entered the UK in the back of the lorry before being dropped off at a Sikh temple in Hounslow and was given accommodation.

He claimed he lived in London and had only been helping out in the store but investigations of the shop’s records found a rota of employees containing the name Golu.

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When another staff was asked who this was, she identified Malhotra from a photograph and said he had been working there for over three months and lived in a flat above the shop.

HM immigration later identified him as Mahinder Jeet Singh who entered the UK on December 31 2017 when he applied for asylum, which was finally rejected in November last year.

Councillors were told that while asylum seekers’ cases are decided applicants are not allowed to work.

Stripping the stores’s permit to sell alcohol, Councillor Michael Evans, chairman of the committee, said: “After a long discussion, we are a hundred percent confident that the only way to proceed is to revoke this licence.”

The store is appealing that decision and has now asked the council to allow it to appoint a new designated premises supervisor with responsibility for ensuring licensing laws are adhered to.

Councillors will hear the application on January 21.

George Makin

By George Makin
@GeorgePMakin

Local Democracy Reporter covering Sandwell and Dudley.

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