Kettering shop’s licence revoked

FreshPol in Kettering.
FreshPol in Kettering.

A shop in Kettering has lost its licence after thousands of illegal cigarettes were seized from its warehouse.

FreshPol in Montagu Street had its licence revoked after facing a licensing committee meeting.

Northants County Council’s trading standards team received tip-offs and complaints that the store was selling illegal tobacco and, after occasions where small numbers of illict products were found, visited the store on November 8 last year.

During the inspection a key was found in the till which opened shutters at the rear of the building, which led to a warehouse.

Inside, 3,191 packets of illegal cigarettes were seized – of which at least 2,500 were counterfeit.

Three weeks later, during another inspection, a customer asked for some Mayfair cigarettes.

When the shop assistant went to fetch some from the display the customer said: “Not those, I want the ones from out the back.”

Further test purchases by trading standards officers saw them buy illicit cigarettes and on February 6, officers and a sniffer dog visited.

More than 600 illegal packets of cigarettes were seized.

When officers were in the store a member of the public reported that there were people on the roof throwing boxes of cigarettes down.

When they went to investigate the car drove off at speed – with cigarettes piled high on the passenger seat.

A further search found more cigarettes on the roof and in a concealed room.

A council panel gave weight to the evidence presented by police and dismissed representations by FreshPol as ‘not relevant’.

The panel decided that revoking the store’s licence was both necessary and proportionate to promote licensing objectives.

A Kettering Council spokesman said the decision may be appealed and if it is it will be on hold until the appeal concludes.