Ilford tea room’s application for late licence rejected by Redbridge Council

Redbridge Council has refused to allow a tea room to stay open later on weekends after insisting the owner breached his licence more than once.

Farook Aswat, the owner of Chaiiwala on Ilford Lane, Ilford, addressed the council’s licensing committee on August 17 about his application to open until 1am on Fridays and Saturdays.

He admitted to staying open later than 11pm on May 22, but insisted that he had not done so since, despite a formal witness statement from a council officer claiming otherwise.

Residents who objected to the application claimed it would worsen anti-social behaviour in the area, with some claiming it could attract “low lifes” or even murder.

Mr Aswat claimed his business was deliberately misrepresented and said he and his staff had suffered harassment from some residents since applying to open later.

Committee chairman, Cllr Roy Emmett (Lab, Hainault) explained the decision was made because the committee has “no confidence that Mr Farook will abide by any conditions should they be imposed”.

He wrote: “We take very seriously the fact that the applicant has been selling hot food and drink after 11pm without the benefit of a premises licence.

“The evidence before us is of a deliberate and continuing flouting of the licensing laws, even after a formal written warning.”

Regarding the incident in May, he added: “(Mr Aswat) does not claim that he did not know the rules, and therefore we find that this was a deliberate breach and had been continuing from the time the premises were opened in 2019.”

A photo of the shop taken on August 12 was also submitted to the council, which showed customers not socially distanced.

Mr Aswat said the use of this photo against him was “unfair” as it did not show the employee who was attempting to remove the customers.

At the meeting, he said: “I appreciate the local concerns, there are issues with Ilford Lane that were there long before we came.

“Since we have come in with the lighting and the families, the prostitution has gone and the drug dealers have gone.

“We are providing jobs in the area and providing for the economy, it’s not just for financial gain, we have got to have a sustainable business.”

However, the area’s councillor Zulfiqar Hussain (Lab, Clementswood) accused Mr Aswat of being “economical with the truth”, stating: “I have never heard so many lies.

“There has been no positive impact on the locality, in fact it’s been the other way around.”

Chaiiwala’s opening hours will remain until 11pm.

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Victoria Munro

Local Democracy Reporter