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Apologies for Absence and Declarations of Interest
To receive any apologies for absence and declarations of interest.
The Chair opened the meeting but the applicant had not arrived. He adjourned the meeting for 15 minutes to give the applicant an opportunity to be present at the start of the meeting.
The Enforcement Officer was asked to check reception and the foyer to ascertain whether the applicant had arrived. On his return he confirmed that neither the applicant nor the applicant’s solicitor had arrived.
The Chair reconvened the meeting at 9.15am. He welcomed those present and introductions were made.
No apologies for absence were received.
The Chair sought the legal advice of the Solicitor in the absence of both the applicant and his solicitor.
The Solicitor asked the Enforcement Officer to check the entrance of the building and at reception to ensure the applicant had not arrived.
The Enforcement Officer left the room at 9.18am. He returned at 9.21am and confirmed neither the applicant nor the solicitor had arrived.
The Solicitor said this matter had already been adjourned and in the interests of natural justice, and for those relevant parties involved, it was only right that an independent hearing took place within a reasonable timeframe. The applicant and his solicitor had been served the correct notice of the hearing, and had been aware since 11 September 2019 that the hearing would be taking place on 1 October even though the applicant’s solicitor was unavailable. This had given the applicant and his legal firm ample opportunity to arrange an alternative legal representative. The applicant’s solicitor had been asked twice to provide case law on the right to a specific legal representative. He had failed to provide such case law. She advised the Panel that two courses of action were open to them; to defer the hearing, or to proceed in the applicant’s absence. The appellate process for the latter was explained to the Panel.
At 9.26am the meeting was adjourned to allow the Panel to deliberate.
At 9.49am the meeting was reconvened and the Chair read the Panel’s decision.
DECISION NOTICE –INDIA VILLA, 20 WATLING STREET, THAXTED
The applications before the Panel today are for 1) a transfer of the premises licence of the India Villa restaurant, Watling Street, Thaxted, and 2) a review at the behest of Essex Police. There is reason to believe that the transfer application dated 17th August 2019 (which is opposed by Essex Police as the responsible authority) is an attempt to prevent the review application going ahead.
Mr Burke and Ms Savill of Essex Police are in attendance today, as is Mr Logue, a neighbouring resident. There is no appearance by anyone from or on behalf of India Villa though we are satisfied that they have been personally served with the paperwork in this matter and their legal representative, Mr Sutherland of Keystone Law, was told as long ago as 11th September that the hearing today would not be deferred to fit around his other commitments, see post.
We have listened to the advice tendered to us by our solicitor, Mrs Smith, ... view the full minutes text for item 1.
To consider the application for the transfer of a premises licence – Indian Villa, Thaxted.
The Chair invited the Licensing Team Leader to present the report.
The report set out the details of the India Villa’s application for the transfer of a premises licence, which had received an objection on 28 August 2019 from Essex Police under the Crime and Disorder licensing objective. The Police had set out their reasons for objecting to the transfer at Appendix B to the report, as on 21 June 2019 four persons were arrested for immigration offences who were working at the India Villa. The Police report stated that there were clear links between the existing and proposed Premises Licence Holder and suggested that a continuation of illegal working practices would continue if the licence was transferred.
In response to a question from the Solicitor, Mr Logue said he had read the papers and supported the Police’s objection to the transfer.
Mr Burke was invited to present the Police’s report to the Panel.
Mr Burke summarised the Police report. He reiterated that four persons working at the India Villa had been arrested on 21 June 2019 for immigration offences. It had not been the first time illegal workers had been found at the India Villa as on 14 June 2017 two illegal workers had been found on the premises. He added that the transfer was a ‘paper exercise’ and the Police believed that the existing and proposed licensee were connected. Thus, current management would continue to run the business in a manner that ignored the Immigration Act and breached the prevention of Crime and Disorder licensing objective.
In response to a member question, Mr Burke confirmed that Surma Villa Ltd was a single share company that had been transferred from a Mr Hussain to a Mr Hussain. He confirmed that they resided at the same address, although were of different age.
At the invitation of the Chair, Mr Logue said he had witnessed a “seamless transition” since the company had been transferred. He said the previous manager, Mr Hussain, was at the restaurant on a daily basis.
At 10am the Panel retired to deliberate.
At 10.15am the Panel reconvened and the Chair read the Decision Notice.
DECISION NOTICE –INDIA VILLA, 20 WATLING STREET, THAXTED (2)
The application before the Panel today is for a transfer of the premises licence of the India Villa restaurant, Watling Street, Thaxted. The application is dated 17th August 2019 and is opposed by Essex Police as the responsible authority, pursuant to the crime and disorder licensing objective.
We have a report before us and have considered the Licensing Act 2003, the Home Office’s most recently Revised Guidance issued under section 182 of the Licensing Act 2003 (April 2018) and Uttlesford District Council’s Statement of Licensing Act 2003 Policy 2017-22. We also have before us a copy of the transfer application and of the Police objection, and note that the Applicant, the police and the previous licence holder have been notified of the hearing in accordance with the Licensing Act 2003 (Hearings) Regulations 2005 and ... view the full minutes text for item 2.
To consider the application for the review of a premises licence – Indian Villa, Thaxted.
The Chair adjourned the meeting at 10.20am.
The meeting reconvened at 10.30am.
At the invitation of the Chair, the Licensing Team Leader presented the report outlining the review of India Villa’s premises licence. She said Essex Police had sought a revocation of this premises licence based on the prevention of Crime and Disorder licensing objective, as persons had been found working illegally on the premises.
Mr Burke was invited to present the Police’s report to the Panel.
Mr Burke said on 21 June 2019 police officers had attended India Villa in relation to a report of harassment regarding a man who was known to work at the restaurant. On inspection, officers requested details of the five members of staff working at the location; only one of the five could supply identification. In all, four men were identified as immigration offenders and detained.
Three videos of the bodycam footage of the police’s inspection of India Villa were shown to the Panel. Two Police Officers were present and are shown to be questioning Mr Hussain regarding a harassment enquiry. The Officers are then shown around the premises, including an upstairs room with seven single beds that appeared to have been slept in. The Officers proceed to ask for the five members of staff working at the restaurant to present their ID. Only one of the five men presents identification. One man ignores the Officer’s request to remain in a designated area and flees upstairs. The Officer follows the man upstairs but cannot ascertain his whereabouts. It appears that the man has absconded from the upstairs window.
Mr Burke informed members that the man who fled the building was later detained by officers nearby. He would also be charged with immigration offences.
In response to a Member question regarding the seven beds that appeared to have been slept in, the Solicitor confirmed that Environmental Health were aware of the health and safety issues at the premises and would be following up.
In response to a question from the Chair, Mr Burke said Mr Hussain had been arrested and his apparent obstruction of justice was part of the ongoing investigation.
In response to a question from the Chair relating to the workers’ pay, Mr Burke said one individual detained had confirmed that he was paid less than the minimum wage.
In response to a question from the Chair relating to the Designated Premises Supervisor, Mr Miah, the Licensing Team Leader confirmed that there had been no interaction with the appointed DPS.
In response to a question from the Chair, Mr Burke said only one right to work check dating back to January 2018 was found during the search. He confirmed that not one of the four men detained for immigration offences could provide identification.
Mr Logue was invited to comment on the review. As a neighbour to the premises he feared for his family’s safety and highlighted the example of the man who absconded from the upstairs window and jumped over Mr Logue’s fence ... view the full minutes text for item 3.