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DEFIED THE LAW: Bar’s licence revoked after shisha party

DEFIED THE LAW: Bar’s licence revoked after shisha party

A Birmingham city centre bar which held a 40-person underground shisha party during lockdown has had its licence revoked.

The Modern restaurant, on Summer Lane, was the subject of a hearing last week and now the council has decided to strip the it of its licence and remove Mr Yohannes Abraham as the Designated Premises Supervisor.

Licensing committee chiefs called the incident a ‘cynical attempt at financial gain which had directly defied the law’.

Councillors heard how police had arrived at the restaurant on May 4 to find at least 37 patrons gathered in the cellar, with shisha pipes being used and drinks being served in direct contradiction of both health and Covid guidelines.

A spokesperson for the shop had argued that the 37 patrons had been gathered outside prior to the police’s arrival, and had entered the cellar of the premises of their own accord upon their arrival.

However the licensing sub-committee published its decision and wrote: “The Sub-Committee heard from Environmental Health, who supported the police representations and also observed that there was an additional risk in terms of fire.

“The smoking of shisha in an unventilated basement (cellar) was unsatisfactory, especially during a pandemic.

“It was the view of Environmental Health that Mr Abraham’s style of operation was a cynical attempt at financial gain which had directly defied the law; Environmental Health therefore had no confidence in Mr Abraham to uphold the licensing objectives.

“Both of the responsible authorities at the meeting stated that Mr Abraham had placed profit above public safety, which was unacceptable in terms of the licensing objectives. The Sub Committee agreed that this had been the motivation, and took a dim view of it.

“Mr Abraham’s counsel argued that as a new operator Mr Abraham had not had sufficient time or experience to understand where his obligations lay, and that he should therefore be given a second chance.

“However, the issue was public safety – members were unamused that a new operator had taken such a cavalier attitude to Regulations and the advice of HM Government relating to Covid-19.

“There was little excuse for any operator, whether experienced or not, to have thought that this was an acceptable way to run licensed premises; after all, the pandemic had dominated the life of the nation, and been the top story on every News bulletin, since March 2020.”

The premises will now have 21 days to appeal the decision.


Words: Tom Dare, Local Democracy Reporter

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