The owners of a Whitley Bay corner shop have been spared a total removal of an alcohol licence after claims it was selling alcohol and vapes to underage kids.

Following a licensing committee review at North Tyneside council, the committee decided on a 14 day suspension on the sale of alcohol.

Supersave, in Eastbourne Gardens, had generated concerns among locals who claimed the shop had provided alcohol and vapes to underage kids. After gathering local intelligence Northumbria Police and Trading Standards conducted several stings. 

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One operation resulted in the sale of an e-cigarette to a 16 year old volunteer on February 24 2022. One of the owners of the shop, Mr Ehtisham Arif, was soon afterwards sent a letter explaining how he could avoid underage sales in the future. 

However, a second operation on May 13 resulted in the sale of a “four pack of Budweiser” to another 16 year old volunteer. The sale was conducted by a sales assistant and director of the business Zarmina Khan.

Following the second incident the shop’s owners were informed their licence was now up for review. 

The owners, with help from their counsel, Shada Mallor, informed the committee that since these incidents, several steps had been taken to ensure unage sales will not happen again.

Mr Arif explained his sister had now taken a licensing course to better understand her responsibilities, and they had also employed additional staff to make sure two licenced persons would be in the shop at any given time. 

Mr Arif’s counsel also explained locals want the shop to remain open as evidenced by a petition with over 150 signatures supporting the shop.

Mr Arif also told the committee the sudden illness of father back in Pakistan had an impact on running the shop prior to the second inspection in May.

“He was on the ventilator for three weeks”, Mr Arif explained. “It was a very upsetting time for the family. We are very attached to our father, whatever we are today is because of him.

“It was a very stressful time for the family, I have no words to explain it. 

“Although we were still working our minds were still back home.”

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The committee also heard from character witnesses on behalf of the shop. Mr Niel Wood, a local and former police officer, told the committee: “I have known Mr Arif and Zamina probably since the first day they came. I attend the shop most days.”

“I have to say, I have not noticed any changes because it always seemed to me to be very well run. It’s a busy shop and very popular with local people, it’s a very important part of the community. 

“Certainly when I have been there, I have seen nothing to cause me any problems at all.” 

Summing up, Shada Mallor said: “As we have seen from the material, this is a small family run business and one which is highly regarded by the community, and the people who run the business are highly regarded. That is evidenced by the 157 signatures to keep the premises open, there are a number of references from very prominent members of the community supporting this business.

“I think those references are a testament to the character of the people running this business.

She went on to say the shop provides a “vital service” to the local community. The owners can appeal the decision within 21 days at the magistrates court.

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