Hertfordshire traders warned over underage firework sales

A NEWSAGENT has been fined after flogging fireworks to an underage girl in a Trading Standards sting operation.

And the case has sparked a warning to other traders to be more vigilant.

Mahendra Patel, owner of Smokers Paradise in Darkes Lane, Potters Bar, admitted selling fireworks to the 15-year-old on October 28, 2008.

During the hearing at West Herts Magistrates’ Court, it emerged Patel had previously been cautioned by Trading Standards officers after one of his staff carried out an underage sale in October 2007.

Magistrates also heard he held no training records for his staff and he did not keep a refused sales ledger.

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In mitigation, Patel said he had been a newsagent for nearly 20 years and that the sale in 2007 was the first offence.

He also said another person in the shop at the time, who had witnessed the purchase, thought the Trading Standards volunteer was over 18. Following his guilty plea, the 50-year-old was fined �465 and ordered to pay costs of �315.

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Hertfordshire Trading Standards is overseen by the county council.

Councillor Keith Emsall, executive member for community safety and culture, said: “While most shopkeepers are responsible, there are still some that seem to think that they can flout the law.

“Selling fireworks illegally will not be tolerated.”

He added: “There is a simple ‘Think 21’ policy for shopkeepers to follow to help them avoid selling fireworks to under 18s – if someone looks under 21, ask for identification.

“If their staff fail to do so, business owners are at risk of landing themselves a heavy fine.

“It is just not worth the risk.”

For more information about firework legislation, call Trading Standards on 01727 813849.

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