An off licence boss who tried to dodge the authorities while his shop sold smuggled booze to customers – including children – until 3am is appealing the loss of its licence – and officers believe a new licence application from a “new owner” is an attempt to get round it.
International Food and Wine in Preston Road lost is licence late last year after the licensing panel heard a catalogue of incidents which one councillor described as the worst he’d encountered.
Premises licence holder (PLH) Heydar Pashazade, who claimed to have left messages on non-existent voicemails and passed on letters he said he hadn’t received, lodged an appeal at Brighton Magistrates Court on 14 December.
The same day, Baris Yukselen applied for a new 3am licence for the shop and this is due to be considered by Brighton and Hove City Council on Friday
But police have urged the council’s licensing panel to refuse the application as it believes “this is an attempt to circumvent the appeal decision and licensing process”.
And Trading Standards have also objected because Mr Yukselen’s former shop in Coombe Terrace on the Lewes Road sold smuggled tobacco and alcohol – and that unlabelled or out of date food had been found at International Food and Wine in January this year while he was in charge.
Inspector Di Lewis wrote to the panel: “Sussex Police Licensing have visited after this … to conduct checks and have found the licence is still being breached. On 21 December, it was found that the CCTV was not operational and the shop plans did not reflect the layout of the store.
“Sussex Police believes this is an attempt to circumvent the appeal decision and licensing process and therefore invites the Licensing Authority to seriously consider refusing this application in its entirety.”
Trading Standards Manager Jo Player wrote: “It is the view of Trading Standards that controls and improvements there are only temporary due to the outstanding appeal of the panel’s decision of 1 December 2017.
“There are also severe concerns that there has not been a clear break from the previous owners; these concerns are supported by intelligence received from a number of separate sources to the effect that the previous owners have been seen at the premises since Mr Yukselen took over the business.”
She added that Mr Yukselen had provided three different addresses, none of which he appeared to actually live at, and said he had not taken over the lease nor was paying any rent for the shop.
She added: “These premises have a lengthy history of non compliances with Trading Standards enforced legislation and a history of being involved in the sale of illicit alcohol and illicit tobacco.”
One neighbour, Kerry Howard, said: “Every weekend the shop has customers outside drinking the alcohol they have bought, usually sitting in the bus stop. This starts from 8pm until the early hours and can be shouting, singing, playing loud music.
“These patrons also seem to think it is acceptable to urinate in our gateway and leave cans and bottles on the doorstep.
“The shop itself has deliveries arriving late at night. The reason for nocturnal deliveries is unclear.
“The current people serving in the shop arrived the day the previous licence was revoked. They stated there were the new owners. I am not really sure how it is possible to sell a business the day your licence is revoked and have to assume that this is just a ploy to get around the loss of the licence.
“I doubt if a sale has actually taken place because the same people as before are often at the shop.”
The licensing panel which revoked the licence in December were told by Mr Pashazade’s lawyer that he was not involved in the day to day running of the shop, and that Mustapha Donmez had been in charge and was a “malign influence”. He requested that Mustapha be banned from the premises and the licence transferred to his younger brother Muslum Donmez.
However, the panel said while it accepted that Mr Pashazade was “put on the licence as a convenient name”, it had no confidence that Muslum Donmez taking over would improve matters.