Indian cafe in Ilford faces objections to application for late licence

Residents have argued allowing a popular Indian cafe to stay open later could attract “low lifes” and even bring drug-dealing and murder to the area.

Chain Chaiiwala, which sells tea, coffee and street food, has applied to Redbridge Council for a licence for its Ilford branch stay open until 1am on Fridays and Saturdays.

A number of residents have objected on the grounds that it will worsen anti-social behaviour on Ilford Lane.

However, owner Farook Aswat insists his business is family-oriented and has actually helped to improve the area by driving away drunks and drug dealers.

He, council officers and any interested objectors will meet virtually with the licensing committee next Monday (August 17) to discuss the application.

Jenny Choudhury, who has lived in the area for more than 16 years, wrote to the committee: “Residents are in despair with the demise of this area and feel that Ilford Lane is becoming a haven for businesses that are only thinking of money and not the wider community.

“This is a family-oriented area and we would like to keep standard opening times.”

Resident of more than 50 years Tahir Hashmi argued that “no decent law abiding citizen would be about to go out” until 1am and that “these night times only attract the low lifes of society”.

Ajit Patel argued late night openings “attract undesirable crowds”, which would lead to “drug-selling, noise, litter, fights, even murders”.

Cllr Muhammed Javed (Lab, Clementswood), who represents and lives in the area, told the committee: “I support small businesses but not at the expense of public safety. The council should be discouraging, not encouraging, late openings.”

He claimed it was a “well-known fact” that businesses open late “give rise to potential increase in crime and disorder, public safety and harm to children and families”, adding that such businesses should close “by 11.30pm at the latest”.

Mr Aswat said he felt many of the objections “did not relate directly to his business”, for example complaints about street drinkers when his business does not serve alcohol.

He said: “We have actually had a positive impact on the area. We are a cafe selling tea, our clientele are not the ones who are drunk and causing havoc.

“We only opened in December last year, you can’t blame all the problems which have been there for years on us.

“We are not open until four in the morning, we are just asking for an hour or two in the evenings.

“Those extra couple of hours do actually mean a lot of business for us, to take that away from a local business dealing with coronavirus is very unfair.”

Mr Aswat added that he was disappointed that no residents or ward councillors had taken him up on his invitation to visit the shop.

The meeting will take place at 10.30am on August 17 and will be livestreamed here: https://teams.microsoft.com/l/meetup-join/19%3ameeting_NmI4ZThiNTAtNWIxZi00NzAzLTkwODctNWM2M2NmMzg3ZTJm%40thread.v2/0?context=%7b%22Tid%22%3a%222a8b2c16-2e9e-4dce-a97b-a0b34e803a22%22%2c%22Oid%22%3a%222afb9571-2576-4a4a-8a39-79cf6ea0c0fb%22%2c%22IsBroadcastMeeting%22%3atrue%7d

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Victoria Munro

Local Democracy Reporter