Welling shop permanently closed after selling illegal tobacco products

·3-min read
Bellegrove Convenience store, in Bellegrove Road, Welling (Google Maps)
Bellegrove Convenience store, in Bellegrove Road, Welling (Google Maps)

A SHOP in Welling has been permanently closed by Bexley Council after selling illegal cigarettes and tobacco products.

Bellegrove Convenience store, in Bellegrove Road, was found selling products which were not packaged or produced for legal sale in the UK.

Bexley Trading Standards employed covert surveillance during the investigation for test purchasing and product seizures.

This then proved continual and organised breaches of the commercial tenancy, according to Bexley Council.

A spokesperson for Bexley Council said the shop had been the subject of many enforcement actions over many years.

The council used the Proceeds of Crime procedures to put an end to trading at the shop.

The closure follows a similar shop closure in September 2021 for selling illicit tobacco in Erith.

3,147 packets of cigarettes and 42 kilograms of hand-rolling tobacco estimated to be worth £32,000 was seized from the Erith shop.

Councillor Peter Craske, Bexley’s cabinet member for places, said: “Illicit tobacco not only harms our efforts to reduce smoking in the borough but also presents a serious fire risk to Bexley residents.

“Our Officers often find that long-established independent newsagents also suffer a drop in trade when the criminals move into small retail units nearby.

“This successful closure will make a sizable dent in the cash profits of these determined and organised criminals.

“We are determined to continue working closely with the Police and commercial landlords to track down and permanently stop the selling of smuggled and unsafe products under the counter.”

Residents can report illicit tobacco sales by calling the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133.

A spokesperson for Bexley Council said: "The Council’s Trading Standards team has permanently closed Bellegrove Convenience Store at 98 Bellegrove Road, Welling, for selling illegal cigarettes and tobacco products.

"The products are not produced or packaged for legal sale in the UK and when tested are likely to fail UK safety regulations that require cigarettes to self-extinguish to prevent house fires.

"Working with the Police and the property landlord, Bexley Trading Standards employed covert surveillance, test purchasing and product seizures.

"This evidence proves continual and organised breaches of the commercial tenancy.

"The landlord was then able to obtain a surrender of the lease.

"The shop had been the subject of many enforcement actions over several years which failed to stop the criminal activity in the shop.

"Using Proceeds of Crime procedures, the Council has put an end to the shop trading in the borough.

"The closure follows a similar shop closure in September 2021 for selling illicit tobacco in Erith, where 3,147 packets of cigarettes and 42 kilograms of hand-rolling tobacco estimated to be worth £32,000 was seized.

"Bexley Trading Standards said that shops like Bellegrove Convenience Store are often part of a nationwide network of premises rented specifically to supply smuggled and counterfeit cigarettes and hand-rolling tobacco.

"These shops try to avoid prosecution by employing casual staff and a complex web of ownership.

"By following the money supply chain and working with commercial landlords, Trading Standards Officers can take Proceeds of Crime action to permanently close the shops.

"HMRC and Trading Standards investigations are ongoing into those ultimately behind these shops.

"Residents can report illicit tobacco sales by calling the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133."

Have you got a story for us? You can contact us here.

Follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram to keep up with all the latest news.

Sign up to our newsletters to get updates sent straight to your inbox.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting