Court order keeps illegal tobacco shops shut - and crime down
Dudley Council has won a court order to keep five shops caught selling illegal tobacco in Brierley Hill shut for another three months - after figures revealed crime had fallen while they were closed.
Eazy Shop, Day 2 Day, Istanbul, Polo Mini Market and ASA Mini Market, all based on the High Street, must now remain shut until the middle of May.
A three-month closure order had initially been imposed by the courts in November last year on the five shops. It came after a trading standards investigation uncovered a bank of evidence they were all dealing in illegal tobacco.
That closure order has now been extended by a further three months by a court order imposed last week.
It was backed by West Midlands Police, who told the court violent crime had dropped by 16 per cent and general crime 12 per cent in the Brierley Hill area since the original closure order was imposed.
One premises, Day 2 Day, unsuccessfully opposed the extension of the closure orders.
Councillor Nicolas Barlow, cabinet member responsible for trading standards, said:
We are really pleased the court has granted us this extension.
The illegal tobacco trade is often linked to other criminality, so it is no surprise to see crime has fallen since we shut these shops down.
As an authority we remain committed to regenerating Brierley Hill High Street and supporting those traders who are working hard to earn an honest living.
The extended closure period will allow the council to work with the landlords of the premises, to ensure new tenants are found who are not associated with illegal activity.
This is a ground-breaking case, which has seen our trading standards officers work extensively to build up a bank of evidence against these five shops which have continued to flout the law and sell illegal products on the High Street.
The original closure order was the first case of its kind in the country where a local authority used its powers to take five premises to court at the same time.
The council is exercising its civil powers under the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 to close premises which are causing ‘nuisance and disorder’.