Pontefract mini-mart ‘surrenders’ licence after illegal cigarette investigation

The owner of a Pontefract shop has “surrendered” his premises licence to authorities, during an investigation into the sale of illegal cigarettes.

Tuesday, 30th March 2021, 8:58 am
Updated Tuesday, 30th March 2021, 9:00 am

Wakefield Council’s Licensing Committee had organised a meeting to hear evidence from both the police and the owner of Queens Avenue Mini Market, after a police report claimed more than 2,000 illicit cigarettes were found at the shop.

But a meeting of the panel, which lasted only three minutes, was told the premises licence had been handed over by the owner Mr Fazal Kader.

The licence had allowed the shop to sell alcohol seven days a week between 8am and 10pm.

Coun Martyn Johnson told the hearing: “We have just been informed that Mr Kader has sent us notice of surrender of the premises licence, so under those circumstances, we are going to adjourn this hearing.”

The LDRS understands the meeting is now stalled until May, in case anyone else was to take up the licence, but this is thought to be “highly unlikely”.

It follows a police report which claimed more than 2,700 counterfeit cigarettes were discovered hidden behind a staff toilet, after illicit tobacco was bought from the shop on two separate occasions in January this year.

The second sale led to the authorities searching the premises and finding 139 packets of “smuggled” cigarettes “concealed behind the toilet”, according to papers published on Wakefield Council’s website.

Both the police and Wakefield Council had called for the store to be stripped of its licence to sell booze.

In his written submission to the hearing, Wakefield Council licensing officer Paul Dean said: “Mr Kader has shown dishonesty with the concealment found in the toilet area of the premises, especially with the amount of cigarettes and tobacco hidden in the unit behind the staff toilets.

“There is no question that illegal cigarettes and tobacco sales have taken place from this shop.”

Police said that they spoke with Kader on the day the cigarettes were found behind the toilet and he later attended the premises.

In his written submission, PC Toby Warden said: “The sale of illegal/foreign label cigarettes is classed as serious organised crime with tax evasion.

“Evidence of such operations at the premises demonstrates quite clearly that the premises is failing to promote the licensing objectives, including the crime and disorder objective.”