No More Alcohol Fountain For Fountain Food & Wine

Friday 10 January

No More Alcohol Fountain For Fountain Food & Wine

 

A hearing at Leeds Civic Hall took place on Tuesday 8th January 2020 where Fountain Food & Wine, Fountain Street, Morley, Leeds was stripped of its alcohol licence. West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service applied to have it reviewed as a result of the business’ persistent selling of illegal tobacco from the premises.  The licensee Mr Mahmood failed to attend the hearing but has 21 days to appeal the decision.

  

The application for review was sought after the shop was visited several times over the course of 10 months and given advice a number of times about the persistent sale of illegal tobacco. During this time, there had been a total of 6 test purchases and 3 inspections by Trading Standards and on each occasion illegal tobacco has been sold or discovered at the premises.

 

The cigarettes sold to Trading Standards on each occasion were sold at considerably less than the retail price of these products. Officers paid £4.00 for a pack of 20 cigarettes which would usually retail at over £10 for a genuine product. The illegal tobacco has been found by officers with the assistance of tobacco detection dogs hidden in various concealments. Cigarettes have been found behind stock on shelves and behind soft drinks cans in fridges as well as in the rear yard of the building.

 

Despite the previous advice given and the numerous visits by Trading Standards, this store has continued their illegal trade. The business continued to supply illegal tobacco products and had shown a blatant disregard for the law. West Yorkshire Trading Standards, as a Responsible Authority, considers the matters outlined above to be extremely serious, and therefore recommended a review of the premises licence.

 

The inspections were part of The Tackling Illicit Tobacco for Better Health Programme that is funded by the five Public Health authorities in West Yorkshire. This is helping people to stop tobacco use for good by educating the public and by investigating traders who supply cheap and illicit tobacco. The programme utilises marketing campaigns and multi-agency enforcement to tackle the problems of the illicit trade.

 

To date the programme has taken more than 5 million illegal cigarettes and over 1 tonne of illegal hand rolling tobacco off the streets. With more inspections planned in West Yorkshire over the coming weeks these figures are likely to increase.

 

Illegal cigarettes and tobacco are usually sold at a fraction of the price in a range of locations such as pubs, clubs, shops, private houses and even by street hawkers.  Illegal tobacco undermines the age and price restrictions placed on tobacco and also encourages people to continue smoking. It is also linked to organised crime and contributes to an underground economy worth billions of pounds. Victims of human trafficking are often being forced to sell these illegal products in order to pay off debts or fearing harm to themselves or their families.

 

David Lodge, Head West Yorkshire Trading Standards welcomed the licencing panel’s decision saying “The supply of cheap and illicit tobacco undermines tobacco control and is therefore a major threat to public health.” Mr Lodge, went on to say “West Yorkshire Trading Standards will not hesitate to instigate a review of the alcohol licence for any licenced premises that trades in illegal tobacco. Licence reviews are a very effective enforcement tool in the fight against this illicit trade.”

 

Councillor Pauline Grahame, Chair of the West Yorkshire Joint Services Committee which oversees the work of Trading Standards said; “We want to see health improvement in this county and with poor and disadvantageous communities and young people often the target of this cheap tobacco, it does not encourage people to quit. Offenders need to know that they will face consequences if they choose to deal in these illegal products. I would encourage the public to continue reporting this type of activity to the Illegal Tobacco Hotline on 0300 999 0000.”