A pizza parlour boss wants to stay open later to help keep his business afloat, he told a council licensing panel today (Friday 10 September).
Khaled Mohamed applied to extend the late-night refreshment licence for My Yummie Pizza, in Longridge Avenue, Saltdean, but Brighton and Hove City Council, Sussex Police, neighbours and a councillor objected.
There were 20 objections in total to Mr Mohamed’s application to open until 2am during the week and 3am at weekends for deliveries, citing noise and anti-social behaviour.
The takeaway currently closes at 11pm every night and delivers until midnight from Sunday to Thursday and until 1am on a Saturday and Sunday morning.
Mr Mohamed said that he did not plan to keep the shop open later and that deliveries would go from the back yard although there are flats above the commercial premises in Longridge Avenue.
Mr Mohamed said that he started his business two years ago but the coronavirus pandemic had caused problems for him as he struggled to pay wages and rent.
He said: “I’ve looked at the complaints. People are living far from me. If you’re living a mile from me, how do you know I have one or two cars? I don’t know.
“All my complaints came from Saltdean gossip pages and encouraging people not to accept. What have I done? I’m human. I deserve a living.”
But Sussex Police licensing officer Hannah Staplehurst said that the force had concerns about extending the business’s operating hours later into the night because of complaints about anti-social behaviour outside the shop at all hours of the day and night.
She said that Sussex Police had sent a letter to Mr Mohamed, saying that his business hours advertised on Just Eat and Deliveroo breached his late-night refreshment licence – and a resident emailed the police about noise from staff on Friday 20 August.
There were also problems retrieving security camera footage after a fight there which is still under investigation.
Two licensing officers joined Ms Staplehurst at the business yesterday (Thursday 9 September) to carry out a full licence check and drug swabbing.
She said: “Following the visit yesterday, we have no trust in the premises licence holder to operate as a late-night refreshment premises.
“Sussex Police believe that granting this application adds to the existing negative effect in an area that is already experiencing anti-social behaviour.
“We do not feel a premises that is currently breaching its licensing conditions and opening hours, experiencing anti-social behaviour, with complaints from residents, and now a fight resulting in ABH (actual bodily harm) injuries, should be in a position to extend their opening hours into the early hours of the morning.”
Independent councillor Bridget Fishleigh, who represents Rottingdean Coastal ward, said that more would have objected but many had said that they did not want their identities revealed to the applicant.
Councillor Fishleigh said: “One resident’s letter struck me where they said, ‘I am begging you not allow this application because of the noise of being kept awake every single night.’ So I think that’s quite powerful.”
She told the panel that because of the growing concern about anti-social behaviour in Longridge Avenue, she was organising a meeting with traders to find a way to tackle the problem.
Conservative councillor Dee Simson asked for details of the breaches found during the most recent licensing check.
Ms Staplehurst said that the part of the licence showing the hours and the responsible person’s name was not on display, as was required by law.
In addition, the closed-circuit television (CCTV) system was not in good working order and was not set to the right time. And the incident log book was completely blank even though an incident occurred just last week.
Mr Mohamed apologised for not filling in some of the paperwork and said that it was a bit too much for him.
And he said that he had never used an “incident logbook” when working at Perfect Pizza in Lewes Road, Brighton, in 2014.
Councillor Dee Simson asked Mr Mohamed if he understood that he had to stick to the licensing conditions because he had repeatedly breached them. He said that he would comply.
Labour councillor Clare Moonan asked Mr Mohamed whether he was operating outside his permitted hours and what exceptional circumstances he had to justify trading later.
He said that he had complied with the licensing hours since securing his late-night licence last July but did not have any exceptional circumstances other than trying to make a living.
He said that he did not know why later hours were listed on the Just Eat website because he did not understand the technology.
The licensing panel retired to make its decision which should be made public within five working days.
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