Edinburgh newsagent banned from selling alcohol as police raise drug dealing concerns

The convenience store has been banned from selling alcohol. Pic: Google Maps
The convenience store has been banned from selling alcohol. Pic: Google Maps
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An Edinburgh convenience store has been banned from selling alcohol after police raised concerns that drugs were being sold on the premises.

The London Road Express near Abbeyhill, can no longer sell alcohol after Police Scotland asked the Edinburgh Licensing Board to revoke its premises licence.

Sergeant John Young told the board that Police Scotland had “significant concerns about the premises being used to supply controlled drugs”.

In March 2012, two were arrested after police confiscated drugs and a five-figure sum of cash at the premises, then known as Booze n News. The licence was suspended for one month in April 2012 due to concerns of drugs being sold, as well as alcohol being sold outside of permitted hours.

Since then, police also found drugs paraphernalia at the shop, and in September 2018, officers found no functioning CCTV and that training records were “in an unorganised state”. In November 2018, licensing standards officers responded to reports of alcohol sales before 10am and found inadequate pricing of products and a lack of training records.

Alistair Macdonald, representing licence-holder Narinder Singh in her absence, said his client was an “unwilling participant” in the problems experienced at the shop.

Mr Macdonald said: “Whatever control Mrs Singh had on these premises, I think Sergeant Young would agree, it is long gone. She has very little influence with what happens in the shop. She finds it very difficult to deal with her husband. What he decides to do, happens.

“It’s completely inappropriate for these premises to continue to sell alcohol. The premises have been for sale for some time. I have spoken to my own clients if they were interested in it, but they weren’t, in part because of the reputation it has.

“She cannot get out of that lease – she’s genuinely trying but is coming up against a brick wall. If it was not longer possible to sell alcohol, the value of the business would drop.”

He added: “She’s a really nice lady and not a willing participant in any of this, but she’s the licence holder and has to take responsibility for what her husband has done.

“I would be suggesting that rather than a revocation, we have a suspension immediately until the business is sold or the lease is assigned to another party.”

Licensing board convener, Cllr Norman Work, said: “I think Edinburgh has got a lot of good licencees. When I see something like this, it really saddens me.”

Cllr Gillian Gloyer added: “I’m quite disturbed and I find it quite alarming.”

Cllr Steve Burgess appealed for a long-term suspension, in order to help the business be sold.

He said: “It’s not going to help this situation if we revoke it.

“If it was suspended for five years, that would surely be enough time to sell a premises with a suspended licence in place and a new operator would have to come back to the board to ask for the licence suspension to be lifted.”

But Cllr Cathy Fullerton said: “I have a great deal of sympathy for Mrs Singh.

“When the premises are sold, the new owners can come to this committee and ask for a new premises licence.”

Councillors agreed to revoke the premises licence to sell alcohol and Mrs Singh will appear in front of the board to review her personal licence.

Sergeant Young added: “We are committed to ensuring any business operating with a licence is doing so lawfully and any criminal offences or breaches of licensing conditions, which are identified, will be appropriately dealt with.”

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