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Another shop linked to illegal tobacco ordered to close

Main image of Coatsworth Convenience Store

Another shop at the centre of repeated complaints from the public and other shop keepers has been closed by Gateshead Council. 

Coatsworth Convenience Store on Coatsworth Road has been the subject of numerous complaints from members of the public about the underage sale of alcohol and sales of illicit tobacco, as well as anti-social behaviour associated with the shop. 

Last week, council officers issued a Closure Notice prohibiting access for 24 hours, with only the council, the landlord and the emergency services allowed to enter. All of the locks were changed and copies of the notices were fixed to the front and rear of the property. 

Yesterday, Gateshead Council made a successful application at Gateshead Magistrates' Court for a Closure Order which will see the premises closed for the next three months. The premises will remain closed until October. 

Coatsworth Convenience_02
Above: the formal closure notice attached to the shop's shutters
The closure notice is the second issued under the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014 this year, after Istanbul Stores, also on Coatsworth Road, was forcibly closed after it was found to be selling illegal cigarettes and causing nuisance. The legislation gives the police and councils powers to shut down premises if they are satisfied that their use results in nuisance to the public or contributes to public disorder. 

Over the past three months, Gateshead Council has received numerous complaints about sales of illegal tobacco from the premises. Test purchase operations mounted by Gateshead Council resulted in illegal tobacco being bought by an undercover officer on two separate occasions, and alcohol being sold to a 15 year old on another. 

Gateshead Council and Northumbria Police officers have seized quantities of illegal tobacco from the premises. Other offences include obstruction of the police and numerous breaches of the shop's alcohol licence conditions. 

Reports from other local retailers and local residents also suggested that the shop's sales of alcohol to children were contributing to a steep rise in anti-social behaviour and drinking alcohol on the street.

"This kind of unlawful behaviour will not be tolerated." - Anneliese Hutchinson

Anneliese Hutchinson, Service Director of Development, Transport and Public Protection, says: "This kind of unlawful behaviour will not be tolerated." 

"We have received numerous complaints about the illegal activities taking place at these premises, but we have also uncovered numerous flagrant breaches of their licence conditions. It is now clear that this shop is associated with a great deal of criminal behaviour and its operation is not in the public interest, so we have successfully used the anti-social behaviour legislation to shut it down. 

"Our investigations into the activities at these premises continue and we would expect that more action will follow." 

Earlier this year, the Local Government Association (LGA) called on the government to increase fines and penalties for those found guilty of trading in fake or tax-free tobacco and cigarettes after they claimed it was undermining efforts to reduce smoking and was costing the UK economy more than £2bn a year in unpaid duty. 

They claimed that millions of cheap, illegal cigarettes are currently flooding the market, with criminals and rogue traders using sophisticated secret places to store them.  

It is widely believed that the sale of cheap, illegal tobacco is funding organised criminal gangs and damaging legitimate traders, as well as making it easier for young people to get hooked on smoking. 

Investigations are continuing and further action against the owners and operators of the business is being considered. 

Main image of Coatsworth Convenience Store
16 July 2019

Another shop at the centre of repeated complaints from the public and other shop keepers has been closed by Gateshead Council. 

Coatsworth Convenience Store on Coatsworth Road has been the subject of numerous complaints from members of the public about the underage sale of alcohol and sales of illicit tobacco, as well as anti-social behaviour associated with the shop. 

Last week, council officers issued a Closure Notice prohibiting access for 24 hours, with only the council, the landlord and the emergency services allowed to enter. All of the locks were changed and copies of the notices were fixed to the front and rear of the property. 

Yesterday, Gateshead Council made a successful application at Gateshead Magistrates' Court for a Closure Order which will see the premises closed for the next three months. The premises will remain closed until October. 

Coatsworth Convenience_02
Above: the formal closure notice attached to the shop's shutters
The closure notice is the second issued under the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014 this year, after Istanbul Stores, also on Coatsworth Road, was forcibly closed after it was found to be selling illegal cigarettes and causing nuisance. The legislation gives the police and councils powers to shut down premises if they are satisfied that their use results in nuisance to the public or contributes to public disorder. 

Over the past three months, Gateshead Council has received numerous complaints about sales of illegal tobacco from the premises. Test purchase operations mounted by Gateshead Council resulted in illegal tobacco being bought by an undercover officer on two separate occasions, and alcohol being sold to a 15 year old on another. 

Gateshead Council and Northumbria Police officers have seized quantities of illegal tobacco from the premises. Other offences include obstruction of the police and numerous breaches of the shop's alcohol licence conditions. 

Reports from other local retailers and local residents also suggested that the shop's sales of alcohol to children were contributing to a steep rise in anti-social behaviour and drinking alcohol on the street.

"This kind of unlawful behaviour will not be tolerated." - Anneliese Hutchinson

Anneliese Hutchinson, Service Director of Development, Transport and Public Protection, says: "This kind of unlawful behaviour will not be tolerated." 

"We have received numerous complaints about the illegal activities taking place at these premises, but we have also uncovered numerous flagrant breaches of their licence conditions. It is now clear that this shop is associated with a great deal of criminal behaviour and its operation is not in the public interest, so we have successfully used the anti-social behaviour legislation to shut it down. 

"Our investigations into the activities at these premises continue and we would expect that more action will follow." 

Earlier this year, the Local Government Association (LGA) called on the government to increase fines and penalties for those found guilty of trading in fake or tax-free tobacco and cigarettes after they claimed it was undermining efforts to reduce smoking and was costing the UK economy more than £2bn a year in unpaid duty. 

They claimed that millions of cheap, illegal cigarettes are currently flooding the market, with criminals and rogue traders using sophisticated secret places to store them.  

It is widely believed that the sale of cheap, illegal tobacco is funding organised criminal gangs and damaging legitimate traders, as well as making it easier for young people to get hooked on smoking. 

Investigations are continuing and further action against the owners and operators of the business is being considered. 

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