LICENSING chiefs have granted permission for a Hereford corner shop to sell booze despite strong objections from police and trading standards.

Hersh Omar Mohammad applied to Herefordshire Council to allow him to sell alcohol for consumption off the premises at Mila Polski Sklep on Belmont Road from 8am to midnight, seven days a week.

A licence for the shop was revoked following a police raid in December last year which found non-duty paid alcohol for sale.

Leah Wilson, trading standards officer, told the licensing committee last week that the premises had a history of offcences including illicit trading in tobacco, alcohol and illegal immigration.

“The evidence shows that we have reason to believe that Hersh Mohammad is not a fit and proper person to hold a premises licence or to uphold the licensing objectives as he was the responsible person in the business at the time when smuggled alcohol was found on the premises,” she said.

Police harm and reduction coordinator Jim Mooney said West Mercia Police also objected.

He said: “Mila has, in the view of the police, a chequered history with regards to criminal activity in breach of its premises licence.

“We are aware that in December 2018, police and HMRC visited and 32 bottles of vodka were found for sale it was established that they were non-duty paid and were seized by HMRC.

This resulted in a police led review which revoked the licence.

“The police position is that Hersh Mohammad is not a suitable person to hold the premises licence for this location and to allow him to have a licence will undermine the licensing objectives of the prevention of crime and disorder.”

But Mr Mohammad’s solicitor said it was ‘critically important’ that there was no evidence to tie anything that had previously happened at the premises with his client.

“They might have had a chequered past previously until my client started working at the premises,” he said.

He said Mr Mohammad had been working in a manufacturing in Blackburn and came to Hereford through a contact to have a look at the premises with a view to buying them.

“This is an interesting case because while there is a lot of preamble about the premises having a chequered past what you need to do is assess on the evidence in relation to this applicant,” he said.

“He bought stock. He hadn’t done sufficient due diligence at that stage and as a result of that there was £300 worth of non-duty paid alcohol in the premises.

“He has traded responsibly; the shop is very well fitted out and has an exceptionally good CCTV system.”

However, Ms Wilson said she carried out a food safety inspection at Mila on May 3 and found 24 items breaching food legislation.

“Due diligence couldn’t be shown at the time that regular checks had been undertaken on that food. There were various breaches of the food legislation including food which was past its use by date.”

But chairman Alan Seldon said the matters were not relevant to the application.

The committee granted the licence with conditions proposed by West Mercia Police.

Principle licensing officer Fred Spriggs declared that he was friends with the applicant’s solicitor at start of the meeting.