Ilford shop owner considers closing down after restrictions placed on alcohol sales

The owner of an Ilford High Road off-licence no longer allowed to sell alcohol 24 hours a day says he will have to close down because of the council’s decision.

Azad Food Centre owner Salman Yalcinkaya paid the £295 licence fee to the council for six years before they realised his licence was registered in the wrong name.

Mr Yalcinkaya, who has owned the shop for 12 years, did not realise the licence was registered in the name of a business he dissolved in 2014 rather than his own.

His application for a new 24-hour licence, discussed at a licensing meeting on June 25, was rejected, with the council only allowing him to sell alcohol until 11pm or 10.30pm on Sundays.

Mr Yalcinkaya said: “I do not think we will be able to carry on for the long-term.

“At the moment we do not have business rates to pay because of the pandemic but next year it will be £20,000 again.

“I’m now planning to move out and buy some other place. It was not a fair decision, they could have found some middle ground.

“They are blaming me for all the crime in Ilford. We pay the council to clean up the area but they want me to clean it for them.”

At the meeting Mr Yalcinkaya estimated his shop earned £1,000 from alcohol a day, with around half of these sales between midnight and 8am.

However, he insisted he did not sell to street drinkers and that late-night sales were from taxi drivers or road and rail workers finishing their shifts.

Arguing against an extended licence at the meeting was licensing enforcement officer Priya Cheema, who claimed she had seen street drinkers buying alcohol from the shop.

She said: “We are being told the shop is not contributing to street drinking, but I have seen something different. More efforts need to be made by Mr Yalcinkaya to prevent that happening.”

The council’s interim head of licensing Ed Chaplin agreed with her assessment, telling the committee Mr Yalcinkaya “does not really have what it takes to operate an alcohol licence”.

The shop is also no longer allowed to sell cans of beer and cider stronger than 6.5 per cent or allow unaccompanied children into the shop after 9pm.

Mr Yalcinkaya must also complete a licensing course within the next three months.

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Victoria Munro

Local Democracy Reporter