Waging war on dodgy traders

Some of the beer confiscated during the operation.
Some of the beer confiscated during the operation.
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A task force waging war on Blackpool’s tax evading businesses and traders has recovered more than £20,000 of untaxed goods in the first day of its crackdown.

Up to 80 HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) staff swooped on the resort yesterday, running road blocks and visiting corner shops, 15 hotels, retailers as well as independent sellers.

The Gazette was exclusively invited to have the first ever look behind the scenes of a task force command centre.

The first van load of confiscated goods arrived at 11.30am at a secret base in the resort.

The load included £20,000 worth of non-duty paid 10 per cent strength lager that had been seized from an unsuspecting Blackpool corner shop.

The shop owner now faces an in-depth audit of his taxes, a review of his alcohol selling licence and possible prosecution.

Chris Brett, Blackpool’s task force manager, said: “This is all about a focused attack on tax evaders.

“It is a joint approach using not only the powers of HMRC, but those of the police, trading standards and the council to close down illegal businesses.

“Each of the different agencies are cross referencing their intelligence and together we are coming up with a hit list of businesses.”

HMRC officers and the police also carried out one retail wholesale shop closure and road-side checks on 16 commercial vehicles for the use of red diesel, as well as uncovering four council tax frauds, one case of benefit fraud, plus a number of health and safety matters.

Coun Gillian Campbell said: “Our message is clear, if you can’t operate within the law, we don’t want you in Blackpool.”

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