Birmingham Simply Local store under review after ’employing illegal immigrant’

By: Tom Dare, Local Democracy Reporter

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Simply Local on Smallbrook Queensway (Photo: Google Street View via LDRS)

A Birmingham city centre convenience store could lose its licence to sell alcohol after it was found to be employing an illegal immigrant.

The Simply Local store, on Smallbrook Queensway in the city centre, is set to go before the council’s licensing committee next week (Oct 11) after a police raid found an illegal immigrant working in the store for cash in hand.

Both West Midlands Police and licensing enforcement have called for the shop’s licence to be revoked following the incident, while the worker in question was arrested on site by police.

Working on intelligence from an outside source, police and immigration officers visited the shop on September 8, with the police report detailing the events that unfolded.

“When officers attended the premises at approximately 10.50hrs they found the premises open, with customers inside and one member of staff was stood behind the counter. This member of staff was wearing a grey fleece with the words ‘Simply Local’ across the left hand chest area of the garment.

“Officers from the immigration service detained this male who was confirmed as being an illegal worker, working at the premises.

“This male fitted the description given in the intelligence the officers had received. [He] was arrested and is being dealt with by the immigration service.

“At the premises the arrested male made significant statements to the officers:

  • He stated that he was an overstayer on a student visa.
  • He stated that he had worked at the premises for about a year.
  • He stated that he worked about 45 hours per week.
  • He stated that he was paid cash in hand.
  • He stated that he was paid £5.50 an hour.

“Of note this member of staff had shop keys in his possession and was prepared to lock and alarm the premises if none of the management had arrived prior to his departure with immigration officers.”

The case was initially heard back in September, with the licence temporarily suspended pending a full investigation – at the time, the owner of the premises argued that he had not intended to intentionally mislead officers, adding that he had successfully run 10 premises in the surrounding areas over the past 17 years without incident and that the HR manager would have to be contacted to explain the case of the illegal immigrant.

The hearing will take place on Monday (October 11).