Chigwell bar faces legal battle over licence

A Chigwell bar accused of holding several lockdown parties has lost a bid to stay open later as the authorities say they have “no trust” in its owner.

Melin Chigwell, in Woodford Green, was stripped of its licence in January last year after being accused of running 13 “COVID factory” parties in 2020.

However, owner Ali Melin, 44, has appealed Redbridge Council’s decision, meaning his bar can operate as usual until the case is heard at a local magistrates’ court.

Losing its licence would mean the bar, said to be popular with TOWIE stars, will not be allowed to serve alcohol or stay open after 11pm.

Despite being in the midst of a legal battle to keep its licence, Melin applied to extend its closing time by an hour Fridays and Saturdays, to close at 1:30am.

Last week, Redbridge’s licensing committee refused, saying it has “no trust” in the bar or its owner, as they have “continually shown disregard for the prevention of crime and disorder”.

Opposing the application, the police and council revealed several concerns that have emerged since last January.

This includes questions over a doctor’s letter provided so that Mr Melin could avoid attending the licensing hearing in January 2021, that he now runs the business as a “shadow director” and that he frustrated a police investigation into an alleged sexual assault on the premises.

When the police questioned the letter, his barrister David Dadds withdrew from the case citing “professional embarrassment”.

According to police evidence, Mr Melin denies being party to any fraudulent activity.

A statement from PC Paget said he visited the club in January 2022 to ask for CCTV related to an alleged sexual assault.

During his visit the officer described being “frustrated” at the owner failing to provide CCTV of the alleged incident until a specialist police team was called in to download the footage.

The licensing committee’s refusal, published last week, found that Ali “continues to run and substantially control” the bar, despite appointing manager Mannu Dahiya, 40, as supervisor and company director.

It also rubbished Melin’s claim that it is a restaurant, calling it a “hybrid restaurant and club” with disco balls, “exotic dancers”, an upstairs dance floor and “multiple DJ booths”.

The full scope of Melin’s failed application included extending its opening hours to midnight from Sunday to Tuesday, until 12:30am from Wednesday to Thursday and until 1am from Friday to Saturday.

It also sought permission to relax several other strict conditions such as needing a female door supervisor, forbidding patrons from taking drinks outside and allowing use of the roof terrace after 9pm.

On September 6, at Romford Magistrates’ Court, Redbridge Council lost its bid to have Melin Chigwell’s appeal dismissed without a full hearing in November, the court service and police confirmed.

As a result, a full appeal hearing will begin on November 7.

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Josh Mellor

Local Democracy Reporter