Kilnhurst shop’s licence under threat over illegal vape sales

TRADING standards found a “significant supply” of illegal vapes at a shop which had an illegal immigrant working behind the counter.

The service applied for the licence to be revoked from the John Bull Convenience Store at Kilnhurst.

Disposable e-cigs are restricted to a maximum capacity of 2ml of liquid, which is the equivalent of 600 puffs.

The John Bull store was found to be selling 3,500-puff vapes in March this year, after trading standards received reports from South Yorkshire Police and Swinton Academy.

Trading standards and police visited in May, when cabinets of oversized e-cigs were again found in the shop. Officials left a “responsible retailer” advice pack covering restricted sales information.

But when they checked again in July, they seized 626 illegal e-cigs with a retail value of about £5,000.

Licence holder Vinithan Selvaratnam told trading standards that he made £5 per vape sale, which was keeping the shop in business, a Rotherham Council licensing sub-committee meeting was told on Monday (9).

Dave Lodge, principal trading standards officer, said this was a “strong indication” that Mr Selvaratnam knew the products were not legal.

RMBC licensing manager Alan Pogorzelec said the premises appeared to be run poorly – adding: “We have a low level of confidence in management.”

Mr Pogorzelec presented a list of 15 conditions to be applied to the business, should the sub-committee decide not to revoke the licence.

These include recording refused sales and other incidents on the premises, installing CCTV and regular staff training on selling alcohol.

Mr Selvaratnam offered his own suggestion of 22 conditions, and said the “illegal immigrant” had been legal to work at the time he was hired. He said this right to work had expired but he had been told by the staff member that he was waiting to hear from the Home Office about a renewal.

The shop’s representative pointed out that Mr Selvaratnam had run the family business since 2013, with no complaints before this year.

He also said that while SYP supported the premises review, the force had not made a formal representation.

Rotherham Council’s licensing department apologised for submitting paperwork which incorrectly stated that Mr Selvaratnam’s licence had expired.

Mr Selvaratnam, who maintained that he had unknowingly bought the illegal vapes, will be informed of the decision by Tuesday.