Reading store in trouble over assault and rule breach probe

A Reading corner store could be banned from selling alcohol after the owner was accused of assault and concerns were raised by police.

Thames Valley Police has called for the alcohol licence of the Today’s Express at 17 Duke Street, in Reading town centre, to be revoked after an inspection at the shop raised serious concerns.

However, the owner of the store, Quais Aziz, denies the accusations.

Police licensing officer Simon Wheeler has applied to Reading Borough Council to revoke the licence to sell alcohol at the premises.

Currently, alcohol can be sold from 8am to 11pm Monday to Saturday and 10am to 10.30pm on Sundays.

But Mr Aziz and his employee Mohammed Naseri could be banned from selling alcohol after police said they had failed to comply with licensing conditions.

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The most serious accusation is that Mr Aziz slapped a woman’s face, grabbed her by the neck and threw her out of the premises.

Police say Mr Aziz was arrested and charged with assault after an incident occurred on May 18, 2022, an allegation that remains under investigation.

PC Wheeler also raised concerns after an inspection on September 28, 2020.

Police have submitted evidence that licence conditions are not being adhered to, finding that the Challenge 25 age verification policy was not displayed or available, and a policy that drinks must be bought in packs of four was not being followed – as single cans were reportedly being sold including to a known street drinker.

Mr Aziz denied the allegations against him in a conversation with the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

He denied not following the correct procedures such as the Challenge 25 alcohol sale policy, and has called for the meeting to be postponed until he has a solicitor to represent him and a translator.

Mr Aziz said:  “I’m not able to come to the meeting because I work 8am to 11pm, seven days a week.

“Also, my English is not perfect, so I need a solicitor and a translator.

“If they stop me selling alcohol I can’t run the business. Me and my business partner have families, what’s going to happen [to them]?”

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Mr Aziz said he has requested a different time for the review as he works from 8am to 11pm, seven days a week.

Mr Naseri has a medical appointment on the day of the hearing, according to Mr Aziz. The business partners are both family men, with Mr Aziz having three children and Mr Naseri having five children.

Mr Aziz said: “We are looking after our children, if they take my licence I can’t pay the rent, the electrics, and my bills. This is our livelihood.”

A Reading Borough Council license review hearing is due to take place at 9.30am on Thursday, February 2.

Mr Aziz can appeal any decision made by the council’s licensing committee by a submission to a magistrates court.

Reading Chronicle | Town Centre