Alcohol bans for five town off-licences

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FIVE off-licences in Boston have been banned from selling alcohol after some were found to be trading in counterfeit goods.

Vodka containing chemicals commonly found in cleaning fluids were among the fake goods to be discovered in some of the shops, as well as a large quantity of cigarettes and other types of alcohol.

A sixth trader had his licence suspended for similar dealings.

The shops which had their licences revoked were: International Food and Drink, on Red Lion Street, Boston Food and Wine, on High Street, European Beer, on High Street, 7 Days Deli, on West Street, and International Foods, on Bridge Street.

Boston Deli, on Skirbeck Road, had its licence suspended for three months.

They were discovered to be selling the fake products following a series of raids by police, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and Lincolnshire Tradng Standards, which took place in March this year.

The agencies were acting on intelligence received from the Customs Hotline - but are not being linked to the explosion.

Stuart Crookshank, assistant director at HMRC, said he was pleased by the results of the licensing hearings, which were decided by Boston Borough Council’s Licensing Sub-Committee in six hearings held on Thursday, June 23, Thursday and Monday.

He added: “I hope this gives a strong message about dealing with illegal alcohol and tobacco.

“It’s indicative from five out of six licences being revoked that this is a problem. I don’t think it’s restricted to just Boston.”

Officers raided a total of eight premises in the town earlier in the year, and seized 88 litres of alcohol and more than 1,500 cigarettes.

The raids were carried out to investigate cigarettes and alcohol on which duty had not been paid, but three of the premises were found to be selling a product marketed as vodka containing Isopropyl alcohol, which is widely used as a solvent and as a component of cleaning fluids.

All of the premises were found to be selling products for which they could not provide evidence that the duty had been paid.

Forensic experts who investigated the fake vodka, which was being sold at International Foods, Boston Deli and European Beer, said the product made the drink unsafe for human consumption.

Mr Crookshank said: “I hope those who buy the products will be aware what they are buying. and I would ask people to be careful where they buy their alcohol from.

“There have been examples in the UK where people have been ill from drinking what they thought was a legitimate product.”

Since the raids, licensing authority Boston Borough Council has been accused of having a lax attitude over issuing drinks licences.

However, principal licensing officer Fiona White said: “There has been some criticism of the council for allegedly issuing drinks licences to anyone who asks for one. The law dictates that where an application is correctly made and advertised and no representations are received the council has no option other than to grant the licence. These are not our rules, but rules laid down in the Licensing Act 2003.”