Europa in March loses its alcohol licence after council decides the premises are being used for ‘illegal purposes’

Calls have been made to review the license of Europa on Broad Street, March, after illicit tobacco a

Calls have been made to review the license of Europa on Broad Street, March, after illicit tobacco and cigarettes were discovered there last month. - Credit: Archant

A March off-licence that allegedly sold illicit cigarettes to under age children – risking their health in the process - has been banned from selling alcohol.

A review of the premises licence of Europa in Broad Street, March, decided “revocation of the premises licence in its entirety” was the only way to deal with issues raised by trading standards and the police.

No one from Europa attended Wednesday’s hearing and there was no one available when members of Fenland’s licensing sub committee carried out a site visit to the shop.

In a damning decision notice of the sub committee’s findings the shop came under fire with members saying “the sub committee had doubts as to the ‘controlling mind’ behind the business and serious reservations concerning the licence holder’s ability to run the business - if indeed the licence holder had anything at all to do with the business.”

They also felt the premises were being used for “illegal purposes.”

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Evidence from police and trading standards was heard about the seizure of 11,220 cigarettes and 1,750 grams of hand rolling tobacco seized from a connected first floor flat above the premises following a test purchase.

• The tobacco was imported without tax being paid to HMRC and did not comply with UK regulations in that many packets were not labelled in English.

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• A sample packet of seized ‘Pect’ cigarettes failed the ignition propensity test in that they failed to self-extinguish thus a clear risk to the public.

• A complaint by a member of the public suggested that children were purchasing cigarettes from the premises and such sales those underage is illegal.

• The Premises Licence Holder failed to comply with certain conditions of the licence, namely that two members of staff must be present during opening hours, and either the Premises Licence Holder of the Designated Premises Supervisor must be present when alcohol sales take place. Officers found only one member of staff was present on the day of seizure and he was not either the Premises Licence Holder of the Designated Premises Supervisor.

In the sub committee’s deliberations they were disappointed that a representative of Europa was not at the hearing.

The sub committee also decided the cigarettes’ seizure was “significant and not related to a ‘one off’ type operation but a significant operation and that the premises were being used for illegal purposes.”

In its decision the sub committee felt the business was a “risk to the public generally by selling illicit tobacco products”.

They felt there was clear evidence that HMRC was being deprived of legitimate revenue with the non-payment of tax and leg mate traders were having their businesses undermined by the selling of cheaper tobacco products.

Europa has 21 days to appeal the decision at the magistrates’ court from last Wednesday’s decision.

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