A WIGAN continental grocer was caught selling booze without a licence in a trading standards swoop.
Lithuanian shop Tevyne in Darlington Street - the premises are very popular with the borough’s population of Eastern European residents - had applied for an off-sales drink licence from the council at Christmas.
But it was found to have jumped the gun when town hall officers made an unannounced visit on January 8 looking for “illicit” cigarettes and tobacco they had been tipped off were allegedly on sale.
Now the decision on whether to grant it drinks approval will go before Licensing Committee members on Friday.
Council staff found that pilsner lager along with spirits such as vodka and brandy were on sale on shelves with other produce.
So too were alcopop-type drinks ranging from 1.2 per cent to 50 per cent ABV.
All had price tags attached, proving they were on sale rather than being stored.
Director of environment Gillian Bishop (pictured) confirmed that Trading Standards staff had taken photographs inside the main shop area that shows alcoholic drinks being offered for sale.
They were placed on the floor at the side of the till area and also on the shelves among other soft drinks.
She said: “A further search revealed a large quantity of other alcoholic drinks in the storeroom at the rear of the premises, again some of which had price tags on which were also photographed.”
Council staff interviewed shop manageress Aida Small who readily admitted to selling alcoholic drinks, knowing that their licence had not yet been granted.
But she said that the owner of the shop “was not aware of this.”
Trading Standards believes that the store is one of a multiple of Lithuanian grocery shops across the North West and as such should have been aware of the licensing requirements.
Town hall legal chiefs have yet to decide at this time whether formal enforcement action in relation to the alleged offences should now be taken.
It is believed that no evidence of illegal cigarettes or rolling tobacco were found.
Mrs Bishop said that during a formal interview, premises license applicant Edita Aleksandroviene, who described her self as a co-director of Tevyne Limited, “readily admitted knowledge” that alcohol of 1.2 per cent was being offered for sale in the shop.
But she stated that she had obtained this from a warehouse where 1.2 per cent strong drinks were shelved alongside 0.5 per cent alcohol drinks.
And as such she was under the impression that they were “both soft drinks.”
She added that higher alcohol drinks were sold in a separate part of the warehouse she uses.
Ms Bishop said: “Whether cultural or not, she said that the general practice is that 1.2 per cent drinks are commonly sold in Lithuanian shops up and down the country as soft drinks.”
Licensing officers are now recommending that the committee considers refusing the licence application given the “serious concerns about the management’s lack of compliance with the relevant legislation” governing alcohol.
The owners would have the right of appeal to Wigan and Leigh Magistrates’ Court if they wish to challenge the councillors’ eventual decision should it be against them.