A shop in Ormskirk could lose its license for claiming to sell fake cigarettes and allow children to buy alcohol.
Ormskirk Superstore, on Aughton Street, is also accused by Trading Standards of selling tobacco and nicotine to minors.
Other complaints from members of the public claim that underage teenagers in school uniforms are regularly being sold vaping products.
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The store could now lose its license to sell age-restricted products.
As part of its investigation, Trading Standards twice sent volunteers aged 14 and 15 to buy age-restricted products and twice the sales were made.
An application to review the store’s license has now been lodged with West Lancashire Borough Council.
According to a report submitted by Sam McConnell of the Lancashire County Council Trading Standards Service, the store and its licensee Farhad Salehi are failing to meet the aim of protecting children from harm.
He wrote: ‘The Trading Standards Service has received a number of complaints regarding underage sales and the supply of illicit tobacco to this store. A pack of counterfeit Mayfair cigarettes was purchased by a 15-year-old test buyer on August 9, 2021, and 78 illicit tobacco products were subsequently seized by Trading Standards on the same day.
“Despite this law enforcement visit, Trading Standards continued to receive complaints alleging underage sales and the sale of illicit tobacco. A test purchase of ecigarettes was attempted on December 22, 2021. The elderly test buyer 14-year-old was sold two ‘Geek Bars’ containing nicotine.
Ormskirk Knowsley Ward Cllr Gareth Dowling, portfolio holder for communities and community safety, supports the review and said he has received complaints from residents about the store.
In its own submission for review, it said the repeated and serious nature of the alleged violations left no option but to revoke the license for all restricted products. He said the shop had been a “welcome addition” to the center of two but the council had had little choice.
Mr. McConnell’s report gives further examples of Trading Standards’ involvement with the store and its alleged violations of its license.
These include a complaint from a member of the public in March 2021 that “the store had images of cannabis and cannabis paraphernalia, including bongs and grinders displayed in the window display”; an anonymous complaint in June that he was selling cheap illegal tobacco under the counter; and another shortly after on the sale of “cheap cigarettes”.
That week, Cllr Dowling reported the sale of alcohol to underage customers and in August the first test purchase was made and failed by the store, resulting in the seizure of 78 illicit tobacco products discovered behind the counter. According to the report, “These products, along with the Mayfair cigarettes purchased on trial, have since been investigated and the majority confirmed to be counterfeit by tobacco company brand representatives.”
The cigarettes were also not sold in plain packaging and did not carry the required health warnings. An investigation is underway.
In October, a member of the public reported that “their 14-year-old son and his friends were regularly seen selling vaping products even in school uniform” and another complaint about underage sales was registered in December.
The second test purchase failed by the store later that month when a 14-year-old was sold two nicotine products and the request for review was submitted later that day.
Cllr Dowling said: ‘Ormskirk Superstore’s list of breaches of law and license conditions is unforgivable and I am grateful to LCC Trading Standards for submitting this request for a review of their premises license.
“Trading Standards have undertaken several visits, including to educate the store and take enforcement action, but they appear to have continued to blatantly ignore the law and terms and so I have given my full support to the review and to their recommendations.
“The review will be heard before the West Lancashire Borough Council Licensing Committee and they are encouraged to consider revoking the license of the affected premises for Ormskirk Superstore.
‘The cancellation of the shop’s license is encouraged because, in the opinion of Lancashire County Council’s Trading Standards Department, the information presented in the application is clear evidence that the prevention of crime and disorder and the protection Children from Harm License objectives have been ignored at these premises.”
The deadline for performances is February 2.
LancsLive attempted to contact Mr. Salehi for comment but did not receive a response before publication.
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