“PERSISTENT failings” at a market town takeaway including the employment of illegal workers and its use as a youth club have lost it its licence.

The premises licence for Best Kebab One, on Fore Bondgate, in Bishop Auckland, was revoked yesterday following a hearing in which Durham Police outlined a catalogue of concerns they said amounted to “how not to run a licensed premises”.

Stephen Mooney, deputy force solicitor, told Durham County Council’s statutory licensing sub-committee officers had been working with the pizza shop for a “substantial” period and problems were ongoing.

Requesting the licence to be revoked, he said it had changed hands a number of times in the last 12 months.

The original licence holder was recorded by the UK Border Agency as having left the UK in 2011.

Earlier this year it was transferred to Rabaz Raza then to Rafiq Sala.

Last week both men were found guilty at Peterlee Magistrates’ Court of obstructing police by swapping identities during a multi-agency raid at the shop in December last year.

On October 26 police were informed Zahier Hussein Ahmed had taken over, although prior to the hearing he had not shown officers or disclosed documents to confirm this.

Mr Rooney said police believed Mr Ahmed had known Mr Sala for four years while he had appointed Mr Raza as manager.

He told councillors “nothing had changed” in terms of the shop’s operation.

He also raised concerns about four workers in the last year having been found working without documents to work in the UK.

Councillors also heard from PC Claire McNaney who said its use as an unofficial youth club had been continuing for more than 20 months.

She said in recent months groups of up to 40 youngsters, aged between 12 and 16, had been congregating outside until as late as 2am - making noise and playing “loud rave music”.

Mark Quinn, of Durham Local Safeguarding Children Board, said he was particularly concerned by what he said was “predominantly young females being drawn to the premises”.

Mr Rooney added: “It’s a full range of how not to run a licensed premises. It is all highly relevant because we would say Mr Sala still owns this premises and Mr Raza is still the manager - the manager by choice of Mr Ahmed - and that’s the bit that’s quite staggering in this instance.”

Mr Ahmed applied for an adjournment to seek “better legal advice” but was refused on the grounds he had had “sufficient time”.

The businessman said he bought Best Kebab One to “build it up” and sell on, adding: “I would like to ask for a new start for the shop.”

The licence was revoked.