Euro Express in Ashington has its alcohol licence withdrawn by county council

A shop which persistently sold illicit tobacco in Ashington has had its licence to sell alcohol revoked by Northumberland County Council.

By Amanda Bourn
Tuesday, 28th June 2022, 3:32 pm
Updated Tuesday, 28th June 2022, 3:33 pm

Euro Express at 19 Lintonville Terrace in the town opened its doors just over a year ago.

However, almost immediately trading standards started to receive complaints about the sale of illicit tobacco from under the counter, and further allegations of underage sales taking place on the premises.

Trading standards officers carried out multiple and quantities of illicit tobacco were repeatedly seized. This was found in concealed hiding places within the walls and flooring of the storeroom, or in black holdalls hidden from sight on the shop floor.

Euro Express in Ashington has had its licence to sell alcohol revoked after being caught selling fake tobacco.

In January 2022, after warnings to the business went ignored, trading standards applied for a court order under the provisions of the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014 and the business was ordered to close for two months.

The shop reopened for business on March 28 and within 24 hours, officers had received information that sales of illicit tobacco had resumed. Complaints were also made that the shop was selling vaping devices to underage children.

In response to this, a test purchase of illicit hand rolling tobacco was made by officers and a follow-up visit led to the seizure of more than 1,000 illicit cigarettes, 1.6kg of illicit hand rolling tobacco and almost 100 illegal vaping devices.

It was also found by officers that several licence conditions were being breached; the shop had no operational CCTV, no refusals book in which refused attempts at underage sales could be recorded and no demonstrable commitment to follow an age verification policy such as ‘Challenge 25’.

As a result, trading standards asked the council’s licensing sub-committee to formally review its licence to sell alcohol. A hearing was held at County Hall in Morpeth on June 16 where it was determined that the premises licence would be revoked. In making their decision, the committee stated that there was no faith that if the premises licence continued, the licence holder would follow the rules.

Northumberland County Councillor, Colin Horncastle, cabinet member for community services said: “The outcome of the hearing reinforces the message that this council, will not allow criminal activity in business premises to go unchallenged.

“We expect high standards from licensed premises and those who deliberately disregard the rules and regulations, can expect to face action.

“Euro Express has been given ample opportunity to comply with the legal requirements and the licensing objectives that go hand-in-hand with these.

“The sale of illicit tobacco is far from being a victimless crime. Its low price discourages existing smokers from quitting and can encourage non-smokers such as children to try it. The health problems that are associated with addiction are well documented and we must ensure that we protect our communities from this harm – particularly children."