Venue: Town Hall, Moorgate Street, Rotherham. S60 2TH
Contact: Debbie Pons, Principal Democratic Services Officer
Consideration was given to an application for the review of a premises licence in accordance with the provisions of Section 51 of the Licensing Act 2003, in respect of the premises known as Wellgate Superstore, 34 Wellgate, Rotherham.
The Licensing Authority received representations made by the Borough Council’s Licensing Enforcement Unit (as a responsible authority), which had not been withdrawn, and the Sub-Committee considered those representations.
The Sub-Committee heard the representations from the Premises Licence Holder.
The Licensing Authority had received representations from Rotherham MBC Environmental Health, Rotherham MBC Public Health and South Yorkshire Police.
The Sub-Committee heard the representations from Mr. C. Burnett (Licensing Enforcement Officer), on behalf of the Borough Council. The subject premises was a medium sized general store/off licence situated on Wellgate that attracted local trade with elements of passing trade.
Members were informed of the details of the specific concerns in respect of the management of these premises:-
(i) Following receipt of intelligence, Trading Standards had conducted a test investigation. A number of premises were visited including Wellgate Superstore on 13th March, 2019. A test purchase was carried out as a result of which a female was able to purchase a packet of cigarettes. The cigarettes were contained within illicit packaging.
(ii) A second test purchase operation was arranged to take place at the premises on 7th May, 2019. The premises again failed the test purchase.
(iii) In the interim a decision was made to obtain a warrant to enter and search the premises for illicit cigarettes and tobacco. Police Officers as well as Trading Standards, Environmental Health and Licensing Officers had attended together with 2 specialist drug dogs.
(iv) A cardboard box containing a variety of illicit and counterfeit cigarettes was found behind the shop counter together with a concealed cupboard, connected to an electro magnetic system, and a secret compartment above the toilet cistern, both containing a significant amount of cigarettes.
(v) As a result of the search, a substantial haul of illicit cigarettes were recovered.
(vi) There was an ongoing criminal investigation.
Following the visit, the Premises Licence Holder had been invited to interview at Riverside House who denied any knowledge or involvement in the purchase, storage or the sale of the cigarettes seized. The licence had been transferred to himself on 16th March, 2019, although he had been the owner and operator of the store since mid-February, 2019. Since he had bought the shop he had not made any alterations; the shop was as he had bought it.
He claimed he did not know the male shop assistant who had failed the test purchase on 7th May although he was responsible for the employing and dismissal of staff. It was claimed that the box of cigarettes under the counter was the overspill from the shelves and that he had no knowledge of the two concealed areas.
There had also been a plastic bag containing approximately £3,000 underneath the counter but this had been returned to the ... view the full minutes text for item 3.