While the allegation of proxy sales was never proven, Falkirk Council’s licensing board heard that the investigation into Bo’ness Express did reveal that the owner, Ahmed Ali, was breaking two important licence conditions.
But despite warnings that the shop at 20 Hillcrest must have a working CCTV system and an electronic till system, Mr Ali made no attempt to install either.
Licensing Standards Officer Lindsay Fyfe told the board she had been left with no option but to ask members to consider reviewing the premises’ licence.
Mr Ali’s lawyer, Gordon Emslie, told the board that the shopkeeper was too ill to appear in person, and that the business is currently being sold.
He explained that Mr Ali had suffered a mild stroke – and he has recognised that he can no longer cope with the demands of running a modern convenience store.
Mr Emslie said: “It’s fair to say that Mr Ali has not fully understood the conditions of the licence that were transferred in 2016.
“His reasoning to me for not upgrading his CCTV and his till system to one that is compliant is down to pure cost – to modernise what he has would be somewhere between £8-10,000, which he does not have at his disposal at present.”
Mr Emslie told the board that Mr Ali accepted that he should have taken action sooner – and accepted that the lack of CCTV and an electronic till system had left him open to allegations of proxy sales.
Mr Ali’s personal licence was also revoked at the start of this month as he had failed – for the second time – to do the refresher training that is required by law.
He assured the board that Mr Ali would not be re-applying now or in the future for a personal licence.
Licensing board convener Niall Coleman said that as there would be nothing to stop the appointment of a manager pending the outcome of the sale, it was necessary to suspend the licence.