THE owner of a Bradford gym that breached lockdown restrictions has been fined over £10,000 - but has hit out at the decision.

There had been numerous complaints that Lifestyles Gym at Kyme Mills, off Leeds Road, was breaching Covid restrictions, at one point having 20 people inside when it should have been closed.

Environmental health officers were blocked from entering on one occasion, the Council said.

The owner Tahier Hussain Shah, was fined £10,516 by Bradford Magistrates after pleading guilty to eight breaches of Covid-19 legislation and three charges of obstruction.

A legal prohibition notice for the gym to close had been issued following complaints and recorded breaches both during the initial lockdown period, which started in March, and when new restrictions were brought into place on July 31.

Bradford Council said the prosecution: “Follows a significant number of complaints from the public from March and a number of visits from environmental health officers to check that the premises were adhering to the legislation.

“On certain occasions, the officer carrying out the inspection was obstructed from carrying out their visit.”

Speaking to the Telegraph & Argus last night, Shah hit back, saying: “You look at the first charge, me and my brother in law and four friends were cleaning up.

“It (the equipment) is sterling. It’s got to be done every day. If you don’t do it every day, it’s going to go stale and it’s quite expensive.

“To be honest, it was poor management.

“I’ve had the gym 15 years. It’s a very easy access place in the middle of Bradford, it’s a tight knit community.

“My only issue was, yes, I took the government loan. My bills on the building, it’s £900 a month of rent, then there’s tax, water. £10,000 is not a lot of money

“I didn’t profit in any business from this. I had a couple of friends in, max seven people in. It’s a 6,500 square foot building. I sent a text out to members to say it’s closed to them. More than anything it was friends and family in there.

“I had 36 references from police officers, youth workers to social workers. “My solicitor was absolutely disgusted (with the outcome) and didn’t even charge me for the day. Half the charges are absolutely absurd.”

“They said I’d purposely blacked out the windows, they’ve been there for years. It felt like a losing battle, I made a loss last year and this year is just a complete write off.

“I live with my parents, it’s very difficult to pay – it could be a jail sentence if I don’t pay it in time and the debt will still stand.”

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Environmental health officers recorded members of the public were using the gym during inspections to check if the facility was closed on several occasions, with over twenty people recorded as being in the premises during more than one inspection.

Magistrate Benedetto Paolozzi, in the chair for the hearing, stated that Shah showed “blatant disregard” for public health and the health of the community. He also advised that he would receive a financial penalty due to the breaches and that he had received a Covid-19 business grant.

The offences took place during periods where indoor gyms were required to close due to the risk of spreading the virus.

He was given a reduction in fines for pleading guilty, and was fined £666 for each of the 11 offences.

He also has to pay a £190 victim surcharge and costs of £3,000. The Council had sought to recover £4,221 in costs.

A spokesperson for Bradford Council said: “It was clear from this case that Mr Shah clearly understood the requirement to close and had received advice and guidance from our Environmental health team – yet he continued to allow members of the public into the gym with blatant disregard for the legislation and the serious risk posed by the spread of Covid-19 in a community with many cases and high risk groups.

“As a Council, we have worked with businesses to offer support, guidance and the education they need to be able to help keep their customers as safe as possible from the risk of Covid-19.

“But if anyone puts the Public at risk on a frequent basis, such as in this case, we will have no hesitation to prosecute to protect the health of our district.”