Curry houses angered by Council’s new closing times

Brick Lane. Pic: Dominik Morbitzer

Brick Lane. Pic: Dominik Morbitzer

Tower Hamlets Council has served restaurant owners on Brick Lane with a notice forcing them to close at midnight.

Restaurants that already have licenses, which permit them to sell alcohol and food until 2am, will now have to re-apply for permission to stay open past midnight in the future.

The planning application process will cost £192.00 and an additional £900 for restaurant owners that wish to continue to trade after midnight.

Planning officers and police went door-to-door in London’s famous curry quarter last month, and issued traders with the new order.

The notice, which many of the restaurant owners claim they were not aware of, was served and enforced on the same day.

Azmal Hussain, 62, owner of Preem Prithi restaurant said he was to take his last orders by 11pm and close by midnight or face paying the penalty charge.

Hussain, who chairs the Brick Lane Traders Association, said the new rules would destroy local businesses. He said: “A lot of people will be bankrupt. Some are living from hand to mouth. My members will go bust.”

A council spokesman said the police visits were part of a joint effort to reduce anti-social behaviour, and premises that stayed open “beyond their approved opening hours” would receive enforcement notices.

He added: “Bar owners and restaurants were reminded of their responsibility to operate within their official opening hours, which are restricted by official planning conditions.”

Hussain said the so-called anti-social behavior relates to the high levels of street urination by members of the public.

He added:  “All our restaurants have toilets for customers, and we sometimes even let members of the public use them. Most of the anti-social behavior comes from the night club punters.”

The council responded, quoting an extract from their amended guidance issued under section 182 of the Licensing Act 2003:

“The amended guidance issued under section 182 of the Licensing Act 2003 has a section (13.55 and 13.56) detailing that the decision bodies are separate and that where a terminal hour has been set by planning this must be observed, even if licensing has granted a later hour.”

A petition with 56 signatures from the Brick Lane Traders Association was submitted to the council by Hussain, requesting a six-month suspension of the rules to allow traders time to get new licences.


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