By Rory Bennett, Local Democracy Reporter
Ealing Council has suspended the licence of a Southall shop after officers discovered illegal items present on the premises, including unmarked prescription drugs. Chair of the licensing sub-committee Cllr Anthony Kelly appeared incredulous when an explanation was offered for why the drugs were found which included high blood pressure medication.
The licence-holder Harcharan Singh’s representative Surendra Panchal told the disbelieving panel that locals were using King Quality Food as a place to store their prescriptions while attending a nearby temple. Cllr Kelly said he simply did not understand how that could be the case considering the packages of drugs could easily fit in someone’s bag, pocket or car.
In his report, which recommends the premises’ licence be revoked, council officer Shane Elliot said that he also discovered a kilo of Indian tobacco as well as 5kg of poppy seeds. When questioned about the seizure of the poppy seeds Mr Elliot said that he believed they could be classified as opiates in the right hands.
However, Mr Panchal pushed back on the assertion explaining that that the poppy seeds could simply be used for a number of culinary and domestic purposes and held up a bag of seeds he had bought at a local supermarket. He did admit that his client had been caught with Indian tobacco and offered an apology on his behalf.
The panel was told that Mr Singh has held his licence since 2019 and has never previously had issues with illicit products. Although the panel accepted this, one of the sticking points for Cllr Julian Galant was the fact that after the initial discovery of illicit substances being present on the premises, Mr Singh lied about there being more.
The remaining items seized were found by a police sniffer dog. With the panel clearly unimpressed with Mr Singh’s conduct and baffled at the unsatisfactory explanation about why prescription drugs including diabetes medication were found on the premises Mr Panchal offered concessions.
These included adding to the conditions which required a licence holder to be present during all times when licensable activities are taking place and that Mr Singh would undergo extra training. This seemed to sway the panel who delivered their decision after a short deliberation.
It included Mr Panchal’s proposals as well as suspending King Quality Food’s licence for a month. Cllr Kelly in his closing remarks stressed that he did not believe the explanation as to why prescription drugs had been found and added that there would be no presence of prescription or controlled medicines on the premises or the licence may be revoked.
Correction: A previous version of this article included a shopfront image of Quality Foods, 41-67 South Road, Southall. In fact, the illegal items were found at King Quality Food, 72 King Street. We would like to apologise for the use of the incorrect shopfront image and make clear that Quality Foods has no relation to this story.