A shop could be set to lose its licence after an ‘illegal barber shop’ was found in its stock room.
The operation was discovered at Dino’s Mini-Market, in Bolton, when council officers visited during the latest lockdown.
A Bolton council hearing reviewing the premises licence of Mr Javad Asli heard the shop was at the centre of ‘a catalogue of criminality’, including selling laughing gas to youths and stocking illicit tobacco.
Councillors heard numerous complaints about criminal activity had been made by neighbours living close to the shop, in St Helens Road.
Among the evidence shown to the panel was footage of a youth – seemingly under the influence of laughing gas – stumbling into busy traffic after buying nitrous oxide at the shop at 10.30am on a Monday morning.
A trading standards officer told the meeting: “It’s clear from the council’s investigations into Dino’s Mini-Market that officers have unearthed a catalogue of criminality connected to the business.
“In video footage shot by the council in July 2020, three youths can be seen attending Dino’s.
“A male member of the group is seen purchasing a box of nitrous oxide containing 24 canisters which he then shares with his friends.
“Bearing in mind this is 10.30am on a Monday on a busy main road, all three youths are inflating balloons with the substance and are clearly seen inhaling it for recreational use.
“One member of the group is heavily under the influence and can be seen staggering in front of live traffic on St Helens Road.
“In August last year, an operation took place with trading standards and police.
“During that visit, 600 nitrous oxide canisters were discovered along with 10 large one litre canisters.
“These were seized.
“In February 2021 another visit took place.
“During this visit, officers discovered an illegal barbering operation running out of the rear stock room of the business.
“This activity was prohibited at that time.
“A large quantity of suspected stolen bottles of alcohol spirits was found.
“They had damage to the bottle caps which is caused when security tags are forcibly removed.”
The meeting heard that no proof of purchase could be provided and that another 330 canisters of nitrous oxide gas were found.
During a search a key belonging to a BMW parked outside was found next to the till.
A search of the car found 223 packets of illegal cigarettes, pouches of hand rolling tobacco and another 288 small nitrous oxide canisters and 42 large ones.
All these products were seized.
The find of nitrous oxide was described as ‘one of the most significant and largest seizures that we’ve ever seen in Bolton’.
During the hearing, Mr Asli said he had been ‘ganged up on’ by neighbours who ‘blamed the shop for everything’.
He said he stocked nitrous oxide as a legitimate baking product, that the bottles of spirits were purchased legitimately, and the BMW belonged to someone who worked nearby and the keys had been left at the shop.
A decision notice on the licence review will be published by the council in due course.