A Liverpool shop has been barred from selling alcohol after hundreds of illegal items were found on five separate occasions.
L6 Food Store on West Derby Road in Tuebrook has been stripped of its premises licence by Liverpool Council's licensing committee.
Councillors felt licence holder Aso Ahmadpor was either “not sufficiently efficient or complicit in illegal activity” amid contraband material worth around £3,000 being found in a joint operation between the council and Merseyside Police.
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The council committee at the town hall heard from Mr Ahmadpor who said he had not been present for incidents where police and council officials had visited the shop but begged for a “second chance.”
His protests fell on deaf ears, as Cllr William Shortall, committee chair said members were in “no doubt” that a revocation of the licence was required.
Jenny Davies, Liverpool Council public protection officer, told councillors how an initial visit was made to the shop in January by officials where illicit cigarettes and “herbal devices” were found under the counter and on display. On this occasion, Mr Ahmadpour’s cousin was working in the shop and denied knowledge.
Ms Davies said how on a second visit, 880 illicit cigarettes were found, as well as hand rolling tobacco that was also not permitted for sale. A series of vapes which were above the legal limit were also identified.
On further inspections, counterfeit wines and spirits were found including Polish vodka and Italian wine that was not correctly labelled. Some of which Ms Davies said the licensing team were unclear how it had entered the country.
A “considerably large” amount of illegal tobacco was also seized, as well as cigarettes found in and behind bins. The illegal vapes seized held a street value of £1,575 while the cigarettes, tobacco and alcohol was valued at £1,520.
The hearing was instigated by Merseyside Police who sought a review of the terms of the premises licence regarding L6 Food Store’s obligation to prevent crime and disorder. Natalie Kenny, force licensing officer, said despite having conditions attached preventing such a sale, an undercover officer was able to purchase a single can of lager from the shop on a visit in May.
When a staff member at the food store was approached and asked to account for the counterfeit goods, “he could not give a reasonable explanation just that he bought it off a Romanian male in a van.” Ms Kenny said how the shop had taken “totally unacceptable actions which cannot be tolerated.”
She added: “Clearly they do not think they need to act lawfully.”
Mr Ahmadpour claimed he did not know he was not permitted to sell the items found at the store and he had made two attempts to sell the business. He admitted he was at fault for the second visit where a series of vapes were seized, adding: “I’m really sorry about that.”
He claimed how as the person with sole responsibility for keeping the business stocked, he had bought bottles from other sources as they were thought to be cheaper than wholesale and had told his cousin “eight or nine days ago” he could no longer work in the shop after the single can sale. He claimed this was not correct practice and the shop would sell single cans “as part of four or six” but never just one.
In a bid to maintain the licence, he told the committee: “This shop is my all my life, one more chance is all I need.” Sgt Craig Carmichael of Merseyside Police suggested to the committee Mr Ahmadpour had “taken five chances” but not rectified the situation.
He added how as the licensee, Mr Ahmadpour’s job “is to know what is legal and what is not.”
Confirming the revocation, Cllr Shortall said the committee had considered the decision “very carefully” and was “in no doubt” over its move to strip the licence. He added: “The committee has no confidence you will operate in a way that will not undermine the licensing objectives.”
Mr Ahmadpour has 21 days to appeal the decision through the Magistrates Court.