A shop in Kingswood has been banned from selling booze after police alleged that staff sold cannabis in sweet bags to children. Fosters on 168 New Cheltenham Road has been stripped of its premises licence, meaning the shop, also known as Malt Off Licence, can no longer sell alcohol. Avon and Somerset Police searched the shop and the flat above in March and found 1.4 kilograms of cannabis.
South Gloucestershire Council revoked the premises licence during a hearing on June 8. Avon and Somerset Police officers told councillors on the licensing sub-committee about when they searched the shop on March 30, and intelligence leading up to the raid.
Jamie Evans, police sergeant for the neighbourhood beat team in Kingswood, said: “We had intelligence going as far back as 2015 that cannabis was sold from the shop. People could come in and ask for a cheese sandwich, which was a code that they wanted to buy cannabis.
“Cannabis was sold to kids in small paper sweet bags. This intel came in from a youth carer and when they challenged that youth and asked how they bought it, they took them down there and got the carer to wait outside while they went in and made a purchase of cannabis, to show how they had done that.”
Officers arrived at about 11.20am on the day of the search and found Mr Hutton outside the shop unloading his van. They found “four separate exhibits” of cannabis in the store room, including two plastic tubs, a blue carrier bag, and a Marks and Spencer carrier bag, which contained plastic and paper bags of cannabis. Some also included small paper sweet bags.
The licensing hearing was told that after Mr Hutton refused officers permission to enter his flat, they arrested him and got a warrant to search the property. Inside they found large plastic bags containing cannabis bush, as well as three mobile phones and financial documents.
Speaking to the licensing hearing, Mr Hutton said: “I was handcuffed and put in the back of a van. I don’t know what was taken from the premises. That’s all I have to say. I have been there 16 years and I have had no real problems in all them years. I do my best.”
Following the meeting, Avon and Somerset Police confirmed that a warrant was conducted on March 30 in the Kingswood area. A spokesperson said someone has since attended a voluntary police interview. The same individual was initially put in handcuffs before being de-arrested at the scene, and was never taken into police custody, the force added.
By Alex Seabrook, Local Democracy Reporting Service