May 5, 2023
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Westminster chief calls for more help in fight against 'American candy' stores

May 5, 2023

The blight of London Oxford Street’s ‘candy store’ infestation is coming under closer scrutiny by Westminster City Council with its leader urging for faster central government intervention to tackle the issue.

Photo: Sandra Halliday

Councillor Adam Hug told members of a council meeting that the West End and wider London needs “greater help” to go after the business owners behind illicit American Candy stores, which now account for more than £9 million of unpaid business rates, reported City AM. 

Hug said: “As the economic crime bill passes through parliament there is a strong pro-business argument for greater corporate transparency and accountability to make sure that businesses have the opportunity to thrive.”

He also noted that there must be “tools given” to enforcement agencies to help tackle [businesses] who are “acting poorly”.

Hug said the council will look to deepen its engagement with HMRC and the National Crime Agency to bring a halt to the stores and assured he's making progress with landlords on Oxford street who let to the businesses. 

“Everyone is letting the side down if you let a candy store into your property,” he told City AM, describing their boom as a symptom of a “deeper problem” in the UK economy. 

In the last 15 months the council said it has recovered £1m-worth of items that were deemed either fake or potentially dangerous – this included disposable vape pens that “contained excessive levels of nicotine”. However some 27 ‘candy stores’ are still in operation, WCC says.

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