March store Europa is to have its premises licence reviewed to help ‘protect the people of Fenland’

March Food Store known as Europa in High Street is to have its premises licence reviewed by Fenland District Council.
March Food Store known as Europa in High Street is to have its premises licence reviewed by Fenland District Council.

Police and Trading Standards have called for a review of a March town centre shop’s alcohol licence in “interest of protecting the people of Fenland.”

Tomorrow (Thursday) Fenland Council’s licensing committee will review the premises licence for March Food Store known as Europa at 25a Broad Street.

PC Phil Richardson, designated police licensing officer for Fenland, and Andrew Fayers of Cambridgeshire Trading Standards, have both requested the review amid concerns over the sale of illegal tobacco products to children.

Both authorities claim there are also clear breaches of the premises licence, which PC Richardson states “shows a disregard to the committee granting the licence, who granted the licence only a short while ago and to the Licensing Act 2004, which is in place to protect the public.”

Fenland’s licensing committee granted Europa its premises licences despite opposition from police and trading standards in December last year.

Calls for the review came following a test purchase of tobacco at the store in February.

Trading Standards officers accompaniaed by police executed a warrant at March Food Store on February 9 following the supply of a packet of illicit cigarettes during a test purchase exercise and “a considerable amount of illicit hand rolling tobacco and cigarettes were seized” - says a report to tomorrow’s meeting.

The review application was submitted on February 10 and the report says that “on visiting the store it was apparent that licensing conditions” were also being breached.

Two conditions were being ignored: firstly that two staff are on duty whenever the premises are open - there was only one at the shop during the visit.

Secondly there is a requirement for the designated premises superviser (DSP) or personal licence holder to be on site at all times for the sale of alcohol - but they were not present and the person in the shop was unable to contact the DPS while the police and Trading Standards were at the premises.

Mr Fayers in is application states: “All tobacco seized is non-duty paid and infringes custom and exercise legislation.”

He said while it is up to a court to determine whether or not someone is guilty of these offences they are “strict liability”, with only limited technical defences.

“In any event we remain concerned that there’s clear evidence that the premises is being used to store and supply illicit tobacco. Therefore it is requested that the premises licence is review in the interest or protecting the people of March and Fenland.”

The licensing committee has the power to revoke the premises licence.