Mini market loses licence after police find fireworks and illegal cigarettes in Birmingham

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A Birmingham mini-market lost its licence after illegal ‘rockets’ and cigarettes were found following a complaint about the sale of electronic cigarettes to children. Trading Standards Enforcement Officer Paul Ellson visited Maral Mini-Market in Soho Hill and found the shop in a state of “considerable disorder with cans of beer haphazardly strewn all over the floor”.

After returning to the shop with a West Midlands Police officer they caught a member of staff trying to hide a bag of illegal cigarettes under one of the aisles. A further search of the shop found a pack of “particularly large rockets” that the owner was not licensed to sell.

Mr Ellson said: “In all the years I’ve been doing this job this is by far one of the worst premises I’ve been in. None of the tobacco we found was in the correct packaging, none of it had mandatory health warnings on and it is never intended to be sold within the UK.

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“Selling and dealing in such illegal items is part of an underground criminal network funding serious criminal enterprises. It’s unusual to come across such a large pack of rockets in such a small shop, particularly at that time of year. Most of those fireworks in my opinion tend to be in specialised firework shops.”

The owner, Mr Sirwan Rashid, said he had handed over control of the shop to another person. However, he could not provide evidence to support this.

Mark Swallow of the West Midlands Police said: “The premises licence holder would appear to have nothing to do with the premises and the manager has never been there when the premises have been visited.

“Breaches of the operating conditions of the premises licence have been highlighted. As a result of this West Midlands Police have no confidence in the management of the premises to promote the licensing objectives.”

On making its decision the licensing committee said: “The operation had been managed in a way that was not merely irresponsible, but also illegal. After hearing all the evidence, the sub-committee determined that the purchase and sale of illicit goods was indeed so serious that it could not be tolerated.”

The shop now has three weeks to appeal the decision.

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