A Nelson convenience store has lost its licence to sell alcohol following action by Lancashire County Council’s Trading Standards Service.
Europa, at 94 Barkerhouse Road, had its premises licence revoked at a special meeting of Pendle Borough Council’s Licensing Committee on Tuesday night.
The committee was presented with evidence of five instances when smuggled and counterfeit tobacco had been sold or seized at the store since February 2015.
On one occasion, 122 packs were found in a secret compartment built into shelving while, on another, 140 packs were hidden behind packets of food and in a storeroom.
The most recent seizure came in August this year when a raid on a Blackburn address led officers to a stash of packs in a car parked behind the shop.
Councillors were told how illicit tobacco typically sells for half the price of legitimate packs, which undermines efforts to cut smoking rates and poses unfair competition to other local shopkeepers.
They heard that, unlike legitimate products, no tax is paid on under-the-counter tobacco, although the effects of smoking are thought to cost the NHS alone £2bn annually.
Supporting the application, Lancashire police and Pendle Council’s licencing enforcement officer told the committee that they had not been able to locate either the premises licence holder or the designated premises supervisor who are critical to ensuring that the premises are operated in accordance with licensing laws.
The committee was reminded that, where licensed premises have been used to sell or store smuggled tobacco, official guidance demands tough action is taken to deter further offending in the interests of the wider community and an expectation that revocation of the premises licence will be seriously considered.
Despite being given the opportunity to put its case, nobody attended the hearing on behalf of the store.
County Coun. Azhar Ali, Lancashire County Council cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “The loss of this licence is well deserved. Selling alcohol is a privilege and demands that premises obey the law in return.”
Neil Watson, Pendle Council’s planning, building control and licensing manager, said: “Pendle Council expects all of its licensed premises to trade legitimately and this decision sends out a clear message that criminal activity in licensed premises will not be tolerated.”