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'No fit up' on King's Lynn shop licence bid, council panel told

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Police have denied there was a "fit up" over a fresh bid for a licence to sell alcohol from a Lynn shop.

The issue was raised as borough councillors considered a new application for the London Road Stop and Shop Grocery site at 122 London Road yesterday.

Papers published ahead of the hearing at Lynn Town Hall showed Norfolk Police had raised objections due to what they claim are links between the site's ownership and "organised crime".

A licence application has been submitted for a shop on London Road (56247768)
A licence application has been submitted for a shop on London Road (56247768)

But the force faced questions of its own over claims that a pack of illegal cigarettes had been seized from a customer leaving the store in March, during the consultation period on the application.

Police submissions claimed the man stated he had just bought them and paid £5.

However, the three-member panel was told that the matter was not subsequently followed up by officers.

Lynn Town Hall, where the hearing took place.
Lynn Town Hall, where the hearing took place.

Paul Byatt, representing the applicant, Hawker Ahmed Khider, said he found that "very, very strange".

Police licensing officer, Chris Brooks, told the panel he did not know why that was the case, but added: "Obviously, I refute any suggestion that it was a fit up by police."

However, Mr Byatt retorted: "It might not be a fit up. It might be sloppy policing."

Earlier, he acknowledged there was a history of unlawful activity associated with the premises, which had had a previous licence revoked in 2019.

The panel was also told that two other licence applications, prior to the current proposal, had been withdrawn following representations by police.

But Mr Byatt insisted: "This is a new application with a positive approach".

The panel was also told there was evidence showing there had been a "genuine sale" of the premises to Mr Khider.

However, Mr Brooks claimed there were "a load of anomalies" with the application, including different spellings of Mr Khider's name on documents, which he argued could be an intent to deceive – a claim denied by Mr Byatt.

He said police had "real misgivings about this application", as they believed the sale of illegal products would continue if the licence was granted.

But, in his summing up, Mr Byatt told the three-member panel there had been several multi-agency visits to the premises during the licensing process had not thrown up any issues.

He added: "I firmly believe there is a commitment on behalf of my client and the persons who work at the shop that this will no longer continue."

A decision on the application is expected to be released next week. The committee is required to give its decision, which is subject to the right of appeal to magistrates, within five working days of the hearing.

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