Indian restaurant in Chelmsford refused new licence over crime concerns

A Chelmsford Indian restaurant which lost its licence after being accused of engaging in modern day slavery has had an application for another licence turned down.

Yasmin Indian Brasserie in Baddow Road, had wanted a new premises licence for opening until midnight after its previous licence was revoked when a multi-agency raid in February last year found four males working illegally.

Muhammed Haque Senior, the licence holder, had his licence revoked by the Chelmsford licensing committee on May 5, 2020.

The company had been passed down to Muhammed Haque Junior from his father and he had taken full control in October 2020.

Essex Police submitted that notwithstanding the change in ownership of the restaurant business and the applicant, Mr Kabir Ahmed Chowdhury having been appointed as the manager, “the reality is that because of his (and Mr Muhammed Monjul Haque’s) historic connections to the restaurant business and personal links to Mr Haque Senior this change would be no more than a paper exercise”.

The committee did not accept Essex Police’s contention that the employment of illegal workers would continue if the application were to be granted.

However, it was not satisfied that in reality there had been a genuine transfer in the management and control of the restaurant business.

It added that it was also difficult to see Mr Chowdhury – the new applicant – who had been at the premises for four years – not being aware of the illegal workers previously.

The committee added that “it was not satisfied, on the balance of probabilities, that there had in reality been a genuine transfer in the management and control of the restaurant business by Mr Haque Senior and that Mr Chowdhury and Mr Haque Senior were not nominals.”

Furthermore, because of their historic connections to the business and to Mr Haque Senior, the committee could not be satisfied that Mr Chowdhury or Mr Haque Junior would be sufficiently independent of Mr Haque Senior to challenge  and report to the authorities any hiring of illegal workers at the restaurant premises.

Its decision said: “To conclude, in the light of the committee’s findings and reasons the committee does not consider that there has been a sufficient change in the management and control of the restaurant business to enable the committee to be satisfied that the promotion of the licensing objectives (in particular, the prevention of crime and disorder) would be achieved by the granting of the application.”

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter