An application for a booze licence has been refused at a store in Whitley where an illegal worker was previously found.

Inderjeet Singh Malhotra was seeking a licence to sell alcohol from 7am-11pm at Local Food and Wine on 441 Basingstoke Road.

Reading Borough Council's (RBC) licensing sub-committee were not satisfied that previous licence holder Gurmit Singh Gurwara is separate from the new business.

Mr Malhotra and his brother Ajmit have not yet signed a lease agreement but they hoped to win a licence ahead of completing the transaction.

Mr Malhotra is the second applicant to have his licence application rejected in the last six months since the licence was revoked in March 2018, pending an appeal.

Reading Magistrates’ Court upheld the council's decision to revoke the store’s booze licence for employment of an illegal worker and the sale of illicit tobacco and alcohol last week.

Councillor Paul Woodward, chair of the licensing committee, said: “We are not content that this was a genuine transaction at arm’s length as Mr Gurwara remains on the lease.

“There is no evidence to show that any transfer of documents will be signed.”

He added: “The applicant seems not to fully understand the licensing objectives or how to promote them.”

Mr Griffiths called for the committee to approve the application under the condition that no alcohol be sold at the shop until the lease is signed by the Malhotra brothers.

The Malhotra brothers legal representative Thomas Griffiths said: “With a number of conditions this application is viable.

“There is history on this premises but it is not something that the applicant should be found at fault for.

“There is a separation and documentation has been provided that as soon as the lease is signed there will be no involvement of Mr Gurdwara.”

Cllr Woodward said the committee did not feel confident in relying on conditions.

Peter Narancic, licensing officer, said: “I am not satisfied that the applicant has in depth knowledge of his own application.

“This was his opportunity today to stand out and give us some confidence.”

Mr Malhotra was aware of the illegal worker found under Mr Gurwara's tenure, but seemed unware of the illicit tobacco and alcohol offence.

Declan Smyth, Thames Valley Police officer, added: “There is a distinct lack of documentation at a premises with a history of major failings.”

Another application at the site was rejected in September, with councillors concerned about the applicant’s links to the current owners.