Shop loses licence over illegal cigarettes and Viagra-like pills
A shop in Wolverhampton has lost its licence after Trading Standards bosses seized almost 10,000 illegal cigarettes and unregulated Viagra-like pharmaceutical drugs.
The council’s licensing chiefs this week ruled that KS News and Off-Licence, in Oxford Street, Bilston, had shown a “blatant disregard” for the law and should have its licence revoked.
Officers raided the premises on February 15 and recovered 9,860 cigarettes – the equivalent of 493 packets – alongside 969 100mg Sildenafil Citrate tablets.
Dianne Slack, the city’s Trading Standards tobacco control officer, said: “Anonymous tip-offs were made to a tobacco company who then contacted us, and we visited the store and found all these products under the counter.
“A trading notice was left with the manager, who was present at the time, and he was told that it was a criminal offence to possess, supply or sell illicit tobacco or counterfeit products.
“Sildenafil Citrate tablets contain the same active ingredient as Viagra, used to treat erectile dysfunction. There were no patient instructions or warnings with them and they can have serious side-effects.”
Councillor Alan Bolshaw, chairman of the statutory licensing sub-committee, asked for clarification on the severity of the offence.
He said: “Is this a victimless crime – more about people trying to make a living and get by? To a lot of people money is tight, so if they can get cheaper cigarettes at perhaps half the price then it’s not surprising that a lot of people are going to do it.”
Ms Slack said: “This is certainly not a victimless crime. The sale of these illicit products takes trade and money away from legit businessmen and even goes towards funding organised crime. It is the opinion of Trading Standards that the licence should be revoked.”
Shop owner Karanveer Singh, who is also the licence holder, was asked to name the four licensing objectives required to operate in compliance with the law but was unable to do so.
He told the committee that he bought the business in August 2016 but worked full-time as a transport manager and had hardly ever visited the premises. He added that he had no previous experience of running a licensed business.
“All my time is taken up concentrating on my driving work and I trusted the people who were in the store,” he told members.
“I only went there on a few occasions to drop off keys and I didn’t look at anything, so I didn’t know it was there. I don’t even know where they got the stuff from.”
Mr Singh said it was his intention to sell the premises in the next two months regardless of what decision the committee came to.
Representations in favour of revoking the licence were also made by Parpinder Singh, senior public health specialist for the council, and Elaine Moreton, section leader for the city’s licensing authority, who both expressed “very serious concerns”.
Written representation was also made to the committee from Sergeant Steph Reynolds, of West Midlands Police, who said that as a responsible authority they would also be seeking a revocation of the licence in the first instance.
Councillor Bolshaw said: “We have heard some compelling arguments in favour of the licence being revoked. supported by overwhelming evidence, and that is the committee’s decision.”
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