ILLEGAL GATHERING: 40-person underground shisha party posed ‘significant risk’
An illegal gathering of more than 40-people in an underground shisha bar during lockdown posed a ‘significant risk’ to the public, it has been claimed.
And the Modern restaurant on Summer Lane in the city centre ought to have its licence revoked, an environmental health spokesperson has argued, adding that the organisation has ‘no confidence’ in the management of the premises.
Speaking at a licensing hearing for the city centre bar, a West Midlands Police spokesperson explained how officers had attended the premises on May 3 after being tipped off by a member of the public that an underground gathering was taking place, despite this being in violation of Covid rules at the time.
“Upon seeing uniformed police officers approaching the premises on foot, Abraham immediately locked the front door to the premises,” he said.
“Officers established contact with the licence holder, who was eventually persuaded to unlock the door and open it.
“A search of the premises was commenced and the majority of patrons, 37 in all, were found in the cellar bar. This was in darkness, and persons were sat around the tables with alcoholic drinks on the tables and there were shisha pipes next to the tables which patients were inhaling from.
“In all in the premises there were 43 persons. There was the licence holder, a staff member working at the bar with him, a further member of staff in the kitchen area and 40 customers and at least 30 of these being in the cellar area of the premises.
“On examinations of the premises the till was found to be on and containing money. The credit card machine was on and showed a number of recent transactions and it was identified that the premises had a CCTV system.”
Arguing in defence of the licence holder, a spokesperson said that while he admitted to the business being open at the time of the police visit, he had not served any drinks or shisha in the cellar area of the bar and that patrons had taken the decision themselves when the police arrived to go into the cellar.
However a spokesperson for Environmental Health was not convinced by these arguments, and called for the premises licence to be revoked.
“The operator in my opinion has shown a cynical disregard for the Covid regulations and controls and has posed a significant risk to people inside that premises of Covid spread,” he said.
“I simply have no confidence in the premises licence holder to uphold the licensing objectives.”
Words: Tom Dare, Local Democracy Reporter
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