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    Thatcham shopkeeper fined £30,000 for poor fireworks storage

    Photo: iStock

    By Niki Hinman, Local Democracy Reporter

    A shopkeeper in Thatcham, West Berkshire has been fined for unsafe storage of fireworks – and told he might face jail if he does it again.

    It’s the second time in four years that Manmohan Nagpal, of Today’s Local in Crown Mead, has been fined for the fireworks-related offences.

    He pleaded guilty to four health and safety offences following an investigation by the Trading Standards Service within the Public Protection Partnership hosted by West Berkshire Council.

    Reading magisrates ordered him to pay fines and costs of around £30,000 for dangerous storage of fireworks.

    During the fireworks season in 2022, trading standards officers visited the convenience store to carry out a routine check of the storage of fireworks.

    The officers found that fireworks were being stored dangerously with live electricity and flammable items.

    They also found rockets and other explosive fireworks which were not allowed to be stored at the premises, and the explosive content was more than double that which was allowed under the licence.

    The court heard that trading standards officers had provided advice on prior occasions which had not been acted on by the owner.

    The business owner and his company were sentenced to pay total fines and costs amounting to £29,313.

    The level of harm and culpability was recognised by the chair of the magistrates who directed her comments to Mr Nagpal, saying that health and safety is to be taken very seriously, especially where there is a threat to the public and employees and that he had a duty of care and responsibility for this.

    She went on to say that what could have happened would have been devastating and that Mr Nagpal should seek advice and clearance to ensure he did not put anyone at risk in the future as the community may not be so lucky the next time and he may receive a custodial  sentence.

    Lee Dillon (Lib Dem, Thatcham North East), executive member for public safety at West Berkshire Council, said: “This case demonstrates the valuable work trading standards undertake behind the scenes to protect residents and should act as a warning to other businesses to follow advice from trading standards and to comply with the conditions of their licence.

    “Our trading standards service will look to investigate matters where fireworks are not being stored safely or sold legally and we would urge residents that have concerns about activity of this nature to contact the service.”

    JMG Stores Ltd trading as Crown Mead Stores in Thatcham was convicted after pleading guilty in November 2020 at Reading Magistrates Court of one offence of selling fireworks and alcohol to a person under the age of 18 and one offence selling a firework out of the permitted time.

    At the same hearing Mr Nagpal, a director of JMG Stores Ltd and designated premise supervisor, was convicted of one count of selling alcohol to a person under the age of 18.

    (Local Democracy Reporting Service)

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