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Council reviews see one licence revoked and another suspended

At a hearing of Waltham Forest Council’s Licensing Committee last week (13 November) two Walthamstow establishments saw their licences reviewed after visits earlier this year uncovered a stock of illicit cigarettes and alcohol that had either avoided UK tax or were counterfeit.


In a joint operation with officers from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, Council Licensing officers found 22,520 cigarettes with foreign health warnings and 11.25 litres of illicit spirits at E17 Food and Wine located at 168 Hoe Street, Walthamstow.


A further 95.25 litres of wine, 14,080 cigarettes and 0.9kg of hand rolling tobacco were seized from E17 Supermarket at 97 Higham Hill Road, Walthamstow.


“Alcohol duty fraud costs the UK taxpayer £1.2bn a year and cigarette duty fraud a further £1.9bn,” said Councillor Clyde Loakes, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Environment. “Much of this fraud is perpetrated by organised criminal gangs and there have even been suggestions of links to fund terrorism.


“Either way we won’t stand for this sort of thing in Waltham Forest and are actively seeking out those who are playing fast and loose with the wellbeing of our residents. As these licence holders are now more than aware, we will find you and we will take meaningful action.”


Counterfeit alcohol products are often produced using cheaper types of alcohol, including chemicals used in cleaning fluids, nail polish remover and screen wash. Methanol and isopropanol, which are used in anti-freeze and some fuels, can have serious adverse effects on health and have been known to cause blindness and in extreme cases, death.


Counterfeit cigarettes can contain far higher levels of the toxic substances found in genuine cigarettes, but have also been found to contain excrement, asbestos, mould and dead insects.


The Council’s Licensing Committee decided that the licence in respect of E17 Food and Wine should be suspended for three months and that conditions be attached to the future use of the licence. In respect of E17 Supermarket, the Committee decided that the licence should be revoked.


Both licence holders have a right of appeal against the decision of the Committee to Magistrates’ Court.


These are two of four licences to be reviewed this year by the Council due to the sale of illicit alcohol and cigarettes with a further application yet to be determined. So far all of the licences have been revoked, with the exception of E17 Food and Wine.


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