Hove bistro faces closure over drugs, fight and covid rule-breaking

Drug-taking, violence and a refusal to provide detectives with legally required information could cost a Hove bar and restaurant its premises licence and force it to close.

A man was left with “life-changing injuries”, police said, after a fight which started at Pascal’s Bistro Bar, in Queen’s Place, Second Avenue, Hove, two months ago.

And swab tests found traces on three separate occasions that indicated bulk quantities of cocaine were being taken in the venue’s toilets.

The catalogue of failings were set out in a 220-page report that also alleged breaches of the coronavirus rules as well noise disturbance, hygiene and health and safety concerns.

Sussex Police wrote to Brighton and Hove City Council asking for a review of the premises licence.

The review will be take place at a council licensing panel hearing on Friday (30 July) when three councillors will decide the venue’s fate.

The owner, Said Pascal Madjoudj, 51, will have a chance to address councillors who are also expected to hear from police and council officials, neighbours and ward councillors.

Drug swabs were taken from the venue, which has also been known as La Fourchette, three times over nine months – from September last year to May.

On Friday 11 September, officers found eight surfaces in the toilets where swab readings indicated direct contact with a bulk amount of cocaine.

Sussex Police emailed advice to Mr Madjoudj about how to tackle drug use on his premises.

On Friday 18 December, very high readings indicated traces of a bulk amount of cocaine in six places in the toilets.

Police sent a final warning to Mr Madjoudj and ordered him to come up with a “drug policy and action plan” which had not been received.

On Friday 28 May, more very high readings indicated significant traces of cocaine in five places in the toilets.

Six days earlier the police were called to a fight in the street at about midnight. A man suffered “life-changing injuries”, police said, and the fight had started in the premises.

Sussex Police said: “It is believed that intoxication levels and drug consumption played a part in this incident.”

Detectives tried to obtain security camera footage from Pascal’s – in line with the conditions attached to the premises licence – but were unsuccessful and staff refused to provide contact details for Mr Madjoudj.

The police said that on one occasion last August more than 100 people were crowded into the venue even though the capacity is 51.

Loud music meant that people were likely to have to raise their voices, making it easier for anyone who was infected with covid-19 to transmit.

And Pascal’s was criticised for limited track and trace taking place, for having tables outside full of glasses and for breaking food hygiene rules in the kitchen.

In October, an inspection raised concerns about covid breaches with customers walking around without masks and tables close together.

An unnamed Sussex Police inspector said: “Sussex Police have no confidence in the management of the premises, having seen little improvements in reducing the levels of drug misuse within the premises and the recent assault.

“Sussex Police contend that the licensing objective of the prevention of crime and disorder is being significantly undermined.”

Several letters and emails from the council’s Food Safety Team are also included in the licensing panel papers, citing issues with covid-19 regulations.

The team said that the business was known to them because of issues with cleaning. The premises has a “food hygiene score” of one out of five.

The licensing panel is due to start at 10am on Friday (30 July) and is expected to be webcast on the council’s website.

Mr Madjoudj was contacted for comment.

  1. Mr P P Reply

    This is not a problem for this establishment, it’s a problem in this city. Why are you picking on this poor guy? I’m sure he pays good taxes and provides a place for people to enjoy in tough times. He’s just ridden the wave of 18 months of closures and now you want to kick him in the nuts again? I think the Council need to look within, before pointing it’s finger at others, to cover their own failings. Drugs are part of modern society. What is this guy meant to do, put cameras in every cubicle? What is the result of the scientific control sample? Oh that’s right, there isn’t one! It’s all a sham and probably motivated by xenophobia! Give the guy a break and don’t blame him for what happens in most drinking establishments!

    • Christopher Hawtree Reply

      He was given the chance to produce a plan but did not bother to do so, which shows that he is incapable of running a “restaurant” and is putting people in danger. The closure of this place will be a public good. Few restaurants are worthwhile.

    • Miss D Reply

      You make erroneous assumptions Mr PP

    • Some Guy Reply

      This guy has a series of missteps going back to 2008 https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/11187610.owner-brasserie-pascal-fined-for-fly-infestation/ (couldn’t find the link to previous B&H News articles, sorry staff).
      Frankly, he’s been given thirteen years’ worth of second chances and it would be nice to see a local business owner actually held accountable for once. Misty’s stayed open through its _second_ drug-related machete attack, the Gin Tub has had a chequered reputation since it opened. The Montpelier was well known as a den of iniquity before the police bothered to get involved. Back in the early 00s the pier nearly crashed a rollercoaster full of passengers with part of the track missing, and as far as I know didn’t have to close a day.
      It seems like as long as you can scrape together a couple of hundred quid for Companies House you don’t have to go to jail for anything.

  2. roy pennington Reply

    “Few restaurants are worthwhile.” = now that is an epitaph for the next election, isn’t it?
    that nice building used to be a garage but was changed in 2005 to a restaurant …. and the locals probably have hated it ever since = btw, xenophobia is the polite word for racism.
    the reference to covid ect (Loud music meant that people were likely to have to raise their voices, making it easier for anyone who was infected with covid-19 to transmit) in the report is the usual tactic: throw enough mud and some will stick.

    • Hove Guy Reply

      Oh, fer chrissake, why is the racism card brought up in every situation where someone with a foreign sounding name is accused of criminal activities? His ethnic background has nothing to do with it. The man has totally ignored warnings from the police, and yet, in his greed and arrogance, has continued to allow several of these to continue on his premises. Just for getting food hygeine score of 1 out of 5, as well as loud music in a residential area, the place should be closed down, and the man given a heavy jail sentence.

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