Walsall shop could lose alcohol licence after 'Rambo' knife found and gang disorder

A shop linked to gangs of teenagers fighting “postcode wars” in Aldridge, and where a Rambo-style knife was discovered, could lose its alcohol licence.

The 1st Stop store in Walsall Road, Aldridge which could be stripped of its licence. Photo: Google
The 1st Stop store in Walsall Road, Aldridge which could be stripped of its licence. Photo: Google

Premises licence holder Paul Sapra could be hit with severe sanctions on his off licence, 1st Stop, in Walsall Road when he goes before a Walsall Council licensing sub committee on Thursday.

Police have raised a string of issues with the premises which include the discovery of weapons, drug and illegal vapes, while it has also been linked to disorder taking place among schoolchildren.

A test purchase carried out by Trading Standards also saw a 15-year-old volunteer able to purchase a vape which should only be sold to over 18s.

Trading Standards said the incidents are causing huge concern in the area, including the nearby Aldridge School community.

A number of people have submitted evidence ahead of the hearing which attributes the trouble to an ex-employee who has now been sacked by Mr Sapra. They also said the shop provided a vital service to the community.

If the committee decides to take action against Mr Sapra, he could have his licence revoked, suspended or a modified condition applied.

A report to members said West Midlands Police served a closure order on the store on March 21 this year but they added this has also been broken.

A timeline of the concerns were listed as:

February 14: A large scale disorder linked to youths aged 15-16 engaged in “postcode wars” who used the shop and used the side alleyway of the store to hide weapons. CCTV footage showed one enter the store asking for a hammer.

February 19: A police visit in the area saw the premises licence holder disclose to police a metal wrench had been discovered in the alleyway.

February 23: Test purchase carried out and 15-year-old volunteer was served an age restricted vape

February 23: A member of staff arrested for possession of cannabis found in the kitchen and a “Rambo” style knife found under the counter (Staff member later found guilty of possession of cannabis and received a court fine).

March 17: CCTV showed youths vaping on the car park and entering the store including one wearing a balaclava. One youth was also involved in the violent disorder on February 14.

Walsall Police chief superintendent Phil Dolby said: “Weapons, drugs and illegal vapes have been seized from this premise and an underage sale of age restricted products has been made whilst under the ownership of the premises licence holder, together with anti-social behaviour during the current year.

“Since the court issued the closure notice, the premises licence holder has breached the undertaking of that notice, which is an offence.

“The activities taking place at this premise clearly undermine the crime and disorder, public nuisance, public safety and protection of children from harm licensing objectives.

“West Midlands Police would respectfully request the revocation of the licence.”

But Mr Sapra has received support from people in the area who believe the loss of the store would have a negative impact.

In evidence submitted to the committee, Sukhy Nahal said: “Since the current owner’s stewardship, I have found the establishment to provide a valuable service to the locality.

“Having lived in the area for over 10 years, it is great to have the wide choice and range of groceries that this shop allows as well as its flexible opening hours and friendly courteous manner of the owner.

“If the shop was to close, I feel the local area and residents would be adversely affected due to lack of competition so I would urge you to reconsider this course of action.

“In my experience I have not witnessed any anti-social behaviour around the shop.”

Nicola Pryce added: “I have not witnessed the shop keeper sell alcohol to anyone underage.

“Paul made a mistake in employing a member of staff who caused a lot of anti-social behaviour and brought trouble to the shop.

“Since this member of staff was ordered some weeks ago to stay away from the shop, there have not been any issues. It is quiet and everyone is respectful of the shop and the surrounding area again.”

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.

Top Stories

More from the Express & Star

UK & International News