BLUNDERING councillors banned a shop from selling booze – before reversing the decision when they realised they had overstepped their powers.
Kirklees councillors yesterday refused a request for permission to sell alcohol 24 hours a day from A&B Mini Market at Bradford Road, Fartown.
Councillors then went on to suspend the shop’s existing limited hours licence after police claimed they had found untaxed alcohol at the newsagent and alleged bottles of genuine Smirnoff vodka intended for a foreign market had been given counterfeit labels at some point.
But the suspension was overturned within an hour when Kirklees officials realised councillors had over-stepped their powers.
A licensing officer explained the mistake to the Examiner.
She said: “I think there was a bit of confusion.
“The councillors were concerned about the counterfeit labels so they wanted to use their powers to suspend the licence.
“But that power doesn’t exist, so the shop will carry on with its existing hours.”
Kirklees can only suspend or revoke the shop’s licence if police ask for a review.
Shopkeeper Jaswant Singh Bhullar had asked permission to sell alcohol 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
His Bradford Road shop is currently licensed to sell drink from 8am to 11pm from Monday to Saturday and from 10am to 10.30pm on Sunday.
Police objected to the 24-hour proposal.
In a letter to the panel, Pc Richard Woodhead said police and HM Revenue and Customs staff had visited the shop on May 25.
He wrote: “Four bottles of what was considered to be non-duty paid stock were confiscated by Customs.
“There was a vast amount of stock in the cellar, including over 60 bottles of Martell brandy and over 60 bottles of Courvoisier brandy and boxes of whiskies, wines and other spirits.
“Mr Bhullar could not produce any invoices for this stock.”
The council’s Licensing Panel was meant to decide on the matter at a meeting on June 20.
But the decision was delayed to give West Yorkshire Trading Standards time to carry out tests on three bottles of Smirnoff vodka seized from the shop.
The panel met for the second time at Huddersfield Town Hall yesterday morning.
Pc Woodhead told councillors that the tests showed the three vodka bottles contained genuine produce.
“The bottles that were analysed have come back as having Smirnoff,” he said.
“But the labels are counterfeit. The bottles were meant for the non-UK market and counterfeit labels were added somewhere.”
At yesterday’s meeting Mr Bhullar produced dozens of receipts which he claimed showed the alcohol in his shop was bought from legitimate suppliers.
He added: “No-one has ever come round to the shop trying to sell alcohol to me.”
But councillors told the shopkeeper they were not satisfied with the receipts he brought to the meeting.
Kirkburton Conservative Clr Adrian Murphy said: “Where’s the receipts for all that stuff in the cellar? You’re not coming up with them, you’re coming up with receipts from 2009.”
Lindley Lib Dem Clr Cahal Burke added: “Everything is all over the place. You can’t possibly try to match the receipts with the stock.”
The panel rejected A&B Mini Market’s request for a 24-hour licence.
Clr Murphy said: “We’re extremely concerned about the situation in the shop at this time. We feel we need to take steps to counteract this situation.”
A council officer then informed Mr Bhullar that his licence would be suspended for a month because of concerns about his stock-keeping.
That was the decision that was overturned an hour later, currently leaving Mr Bhullar with the status quo of the licensing hours he had before the panel’s meeting.