Council officers call for student cafe licence to be refused over shisha claims

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Ajmal Ali, of Hookahs cafe, with one of the electronic shisha pens being used at the venue Ajmal Ali, of Hookahs cafe, with one of the electronic shisha pens being used at the venue

Environmental health officers are calling for a licence at a student cafe in Listerhills to be refused amid concerns about “further crimes” being committed on the premises.

The Hookahs cafe on the ground floor of the Campus House student accommodation block, in Hey Street, is already up and running, but the owners are now applying for a licence to play music and offer late night refreshment until 1am daily.

Strong objections have been received from Bradford Council’s environmental team following a visit to the premises in February.

Abdullah Hans, environmental health officer at the Council, says in a report to the Bradford Licensing Panel, that customers have already been spotted smoking shisha pipes indoors, against the smoking ban regulations. In addition he believes CCTV cameras at the premises “will be used to prevent or obstruct enforcement officers having direct access to the building”.

A resident of the student flats is also objecting over the potential for late night noise.

But the manager of the premises, Ajmal Ali, told the Telegraph & Argus that shisha pipes were not being smoked there – but an electronic alternative, similar to an e-cigarette.

“The allegations of somebody smoking shisha are untrue. Some of our customers use electronic shisha pens – and I do not prohibit their use.”

He added that he had tried to contact environmental health on a number of occasions, but had not heard back. “If he had come to look around my premises and do a health or environmental check, then by all means.”

Mr Hans says in the report that prior to the cafe extension being built he was contacted to check whether the premises would comply with the current legislation, which bans smoking in enclosed public spaces.

“After calculating the size of all the openings, I replied stating that they had mis-calculated and the premises would be enclosed, and any smoking inside would be illegal.”

Following the application for a licence to allow food to be served late at night and recorded music to be played, he visited the cafe on February 13 and noticed three shisha pipes were in use inside the premises.

There he spoke to two men, one of whom refused to give his name or that of the owners of the business, and the other man warned the officers off.

Mr Hans added: “On our way out of the door the other gentleman told us not to bother them again, as they had been open for two months and were not interested in anything we had to say.”

Subsequently they were asked to attend a formal interview and did not attend.

“Therefore, I strongly object to the granting of this licence as I believe further crime will continue inside the premises, and the CCTV cameras will be used to prevent or obstruct enforcement officers having direct access to the building,” states Mr Hans.

A decision is expected to be made on Wednesday, April 30.

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