YESTERDAY'S court hearing - in which the former owners of a Bradford shisha lounge were found guilty of breaching the smoking ban - may prove to be a landmark case in councils' attempts to deal with shisha bars which flout the law.

When Council officers visited Pasha Shisha Lounge, in Edderthorpe Street, last year they found people inside smoking shisha pipes and charged the company that ran the business with failing to enforce the smoking ban.

The case was due to be heard on Friday but the company went into voluntary liquidation earlier this month.

However, the case was heard regardless and District Judge Richard Clews found the company guilty on all charges. He will decide later this week what steps to take in the light of the fact that the company is no longer a legal entity.

The Bradford case is part of a wider problem.

Earlier this year councils called for new powers to tackle shisha bars which ignore smoking and fire safety regulations.

The Local Government Authority is hoping the Government will extend the list of activities councils are able to licence.

This would allow authorities to vet licence holders before a shisha bar opens. It would give them greater powers to seize equipment and revoke a licence rather than having to rely on toothless anti-smoking laws.

We think shisha lounges are a sign of a diverse multi-cultural society and there does not need to be a blanket ban.

However, it is only fair that they should play to the same rules as other licensed premises.