Wakefield shop to have licence reviewed after continuing to sell cheap, high-strength booze

IN TROUBLE: Continental Food Store on Westgate.
IN TROUBLE: Continental Food Store on Westgate.

A shop that is continuing to sell cheap, high-strength alcohol is to have its licence reviewed after police said the owner continues to ignore advice.

Licensing officers claim Continental Food Store on Westgate has even increased its range of cans despite agreeing to join a scheme aimed at stopping street drinking.

The strategy involved super-strength alcohol cans being tagged with a dye that can only be detected under UV rays.

From this, police could determine from which shop discarded cans were bought.

A number of shop owners in the city agreed to join, while some said they would simply stop selling the drinks which are favoured by street drinkers causing anti-social problems.

In a report to be presented to Wakefield Council’s licensing committee next week, the police suggest Mahdi Hassan Rasul, who runs Continental, agreed to join the scheme in October last year.

But they say he not only continued to stock the ‘problem’ cans, he even increased the stock, particularly strong ciders, and stopped marking them with the dye.

The report says staff then refused to hand over CCTV which they can request as part of the licensing objectives.

The report reads: “The chief constable now believes the licence holder has merely gone along with the can-marking initiative with no intention of making any permanent change of a positive nature.

“This is evidenced by the detailed changes in the business practice, combined with the increase in street drinking and related anti-social behaviour identified by the council environment officers within the city centre.

“Mr Mahdi has clearly shown that he has not taken any of the advice or support on board.

“It is now believed only the licensing committee can make a decision as to the future of this premises.”

The licensing committee will meet on the morning of Wednesday, May 8 at county hall to discuss the case.