Corner shop loses licence for selling vapes to children using codeword ‘Kit Kat’

Park Food & Wine in KingswoodPark Food & Wine in Kingswood
Park Food & Wine in Kingswood | LDR
Staff sold a bottle of vodka and vapes to a 14-year-old girl in June

A corner shop has lost its licence after selling vapes to children as young as 12 using the codeword “Kit Kat”.

Park Food & Wine on Kingswood High Street received more complaints and police intelligence than any other licensed premises in South Gloucestershire over the last two years, a council meeting heard.

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Staff sold an e-cigarette to a 15-year-old boy last November and a bottle of vodka and vapes to a 14-year-old girl in June, councillors were told.

The licensing sub-committee revoked the convenience store’s licence on Monday, October 2, and that of premises licence holder and designated premises supervisor (DPS) Hitesh Trivedi.

Avon & Somerset Police licensing officer Wes Hussey told South Gloucestershire Council licensing sub-committee that Mr Trivedi had never been at the shop during any of the many visits by officers since he took over 21 months ago and that the shop was managed by Axsay Patel and his wife.

Mr Hussey said police and trading standards had given advice and guidance about underage sales on multiple occasions but the problems continued even after the force gave a final written warning.

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He said Mr Trivedi had no oversight of age-restricted sales and Mr and Mrs Patel had “little or no regard or conscience to the selling of alcohol or vapes to children”.

Mr Hussey said: “In April 2022, police received intelligence that children were buying Puff Bars, or single-use vapes, from the premises by asking for ‘Kit Kat’ as a codeword.”

Mr Hussey said that after the parents of a 14-year-old girl reported that she had been sold vodka and e-cigarettes, a PCSO visited the store to view the CCTV but Mr Patel became “obstructive” when the girl appeared on the footage and claimed the internet was down and it could not show any more.

When a constable visited the following day, the images had been “deliberately deleted” from the system, he said.

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Park Food and Wine store manager Axsay Patel (left) and premises licence holder Hitesh Trivedi at South Gloucestershire Council licensing sub-committeePark Food and Wine store manager Axsay Patel (left) and premises licence holder Hitesh Trivedi at South Gloucestershire Council licensing sub-committee
Park Food and Wine store manager Axsay Patel (left) and premises licence holder Hitesh Trivedi at South Gloucestershire Council licensing sub-committee | LDR

Councillors heard Mr Trivedi and Mr Patel voluntarily attended a police interview in November 2022 and admitted selling a vape to a 15-year-old boy.

Trading standards senior enforcement officer Alan Cahill told the hearing: “Bearing in mind Mr Trivedi has operated the shop for only 21 months, no other business in South Gloucestershire has received so many complaints, allegations or police intel in that time.”

He said a 12-year-old boy was reportedly sold a disposable vape in January 2022 and that trading standards visited the shop the following month and seized 258 illegal e-cigarettes.

“The premises licence holder appears to have a total disregard to the law,” Mr Cahill said.

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Mr Patel told the panel that he and his wife always asked for ID if someone looked under 25.

“We try our best. We always follow the rules,” he said.

He said there was a technical problem with the CCTV which is why it would not show the alleged vodka sale.

Mr Trivedi told the hearing he had been working away but recently handed in his notice to focus on his responsibilities at the shop.

Councillors approved the police request, backed by trading standards, to revoke the premises licence, which means it can no longer sell alcohol, and remove Mr Trivedi as the DPS, deeming him “not a fit and proper person” to hold the role.

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