A Scunthorpe store owner has been accused of being a “puppet” in a regime selling illicit cigarettes, by Humberside Police.
Deldar Ghazi Kadir is hoping North Lincolnshire Council will grant his premises licence application for Nasza Bidronka Food Store on Froddingham Road, next Tuesday.
However, Humberside Police, have said the premises is still connected to former owner Siber Mohammed, who was convicted in 2019 for selling illicit tobacco products, and whose licence was revoked in August 2020 for selling alcohol without UK customs duty stamps.
A report before councillors describes how, in early 2021, police stopped a man they identified as Mr Mohammed and found illicit cigarettes in his car.
Officers found he was “connected” to the store as director of MHS Store which listed its correspondence address and registered office as 88 Frodingham Road.
They searched the premises where Mr Kadir was on site saying he leased the building from an “unknown male” and in a locked lean to building in the rear garden they found a number of bags containing “large quantities of cigarettes”.
The report states “some of the cigarettes were in none English writing and others were in English”.
Officers allege the products were either counterfeit or the duty had not been paid on them. They were passed to Trading Standards.
Further bags, along with packs of cigarettes matching the ones in the outbuilding, were found behind the counter along with money which police believe was “used to trade illicit cigarettes, in a clandestine way, so that monies paid do not go through the till/cash register”.
“The view of the Chief Constable is that the premises has had a very troubled past both historically and very recently. The incidents described seriously undermine the licensing objectives,” said the police report.
“Whilst Mr Mohammed retains any connection with the premises the regime will not change. Equally, Mr Kadir has been ‘in charge of late (since mid-2020) and the premises have, demonstrably, not faired any better. He appears nothing other than a ‘puppet’ of the regime.”
North Lincolnshire Council’s Trading Standards department and ward councillors Lorraine Yeadon and Mashook Ali have also made strong objections to the application.
Trading Standards say they have received allegations the business has been selling illicit tobacco, including to underage children.
They add Mr Kadir was an employee at the next door Smiths Newsagents when illicit tobacco was seized and the owner of that store was prosecuted.
In a joint letter the two councillors say the local area has “particularly high levels of deprivation” and raise concerns over the supply of cheap alcohol in causing crime and disorder.
They allege seeing “apparently underage young people” drinking only a few meters from the shop and note complaints about litter and waste.
“The premises has a history of problems. Although there has been a recorded change of ownership, the previous owner appears to sped a lot of time at the premises and can be seen inside the shop which may indicate some continuance of previous practises,” they said.