Feathers are set to fly after a chicken takeaway applied for longer late night opening in Preston city centre.
Council officials have called in the bosses of the newly-named Gourmet - formerly Dixi Plus Chicken and Papa’s Chicken - in Church Street to face the licensing sub-committee next week after concerns were raised over their request to serve food until 4.30am all week.
A neighbouring business and the city’s environmental health department have both objected to the extension, which would see the takeaway’s opening hours - already up to 4.30am on Friday and Saturday nights - extended to include Sunday to Thursday.
“Members of the sub-committee will listen to all parties before making a decision on this application,” said a spokesman for the council’s licensing department.
“An objection has come from a business at the rear of the takeaway which has objected before due to odour problems. Environmental health are also opposed to the extension of hours because they deal with nuisances like smell and noise.
“The proprietors of the shop will also be allowed to address the meeting before councillors make their decision.”
The takeaway, at 143 Church Street and not connected with a nearby Dixie Fried Chicken shop in Church Street, has had trouble in the past with odours and rubbish.
Several neighbouring businesses complained about the stench of “rancid chicken fat” and overflowing waste bins and the shop was threatened with closure.
Police also raised concerns after recording 16 incidents at the premises over a six-month period including one in which a man was hospitalised following a fight.
This licensing review is not connected to action taken against Dixi Plus, also in Church Street, which earlier this month had its late night licence suspended.
Jan 14, 2013
In the past few months, the Dixi Fried Chicken and Dixi Plus premises, both in Church Street, have been subjected to licence review requests following concerns from the police.
Some takeaways have also employed doorstaff after new licence conditions were introduced by Preston Council at the end of 2011.
The Evening Post visited takeaways in and around Church Street on a busy weekday night to speak to takeaway workers about the police claims.
Most said they did not want to comment.
However, one man, who said he was the manager of a takeaway, told our reporter: “What are we supposed to do? If people come in drunk because the nightclubs have given them too much, they are going to cause problems.
“We have CCTV but we cannot afford to have door staff like the pubs and bars, they are the ones the police should be blaming.
“They get them drunk and we get the problems.”
Police requested last year that the licence at Dixi Fried Chicken be reviewed by the council after a number of incidents including an assault in November in which a 20-year-old man suffered a broken jaw when there were no bouncers on duty.
Police also asked for Dixi Plus’ licence to be revoked, after recording 16 incidents in a six-month spell, including one in which a man was hospitalised following a fight. However, an adjournment was later requested to allow the owners to take their own action.
Coun Drew Gale, who represents the city centre on Preston Council, said: “I am concerned and I will be approaching the chief inspector to have a chat with him about it.
“I’m surprised to hear it is the takeaways and I wonder whether it is because the pubs are better at dealing with problems now.
“We are a long way off where we used to be - the police are exceptional at policing it now but there is always room for improvement.”
24 Jan 2013
A takeaway has been told to install new CCTV cameras and hire doormen to tackle violent incidents or face closure and a possible £20,000 fine.
Dixie Fried Chicken, in Church Street, Preston, was called to Preston Council’s licensing sub-committee due to concerns about a lack of door staff, despite being ordered to hire security at a previous licensing review hearing.
Licence holder Zahid Akhtar, from Blackburn, and his business partner Waheed Akhtar, from Wigan, appeared before councillors at Preston Town Hall yesterday, but the manager of the takeaway, Abid Bashir, did not attend.
Dixie Fried Chicken, by Lava & Ignite nightclub, was first told it needed door staff when hauled before the committee in 2011.
Licensing Sgt John Lovick of Preston Police said Zahid and Waheed Akhtar were managing the restaurant “by proxy”.
He said: “Twelve months ago we took a review out on Dixie Fried Chicken because of incidents of crime and disorder and during that hearing one of the decisions was they would have door staff in the premises on a Thursday, Friday and Saturday night.
“That has clearly not happened.”
He told the committee a woman went to hospital on December 27, 2011, after she was punched in the face by a man at the restaurant.
At around 4.55pm on March 25, 2012, nearly half an hour after the takeaway was meant to close, a man assaulted a woman and her boyfriend - with no door staff present.
And on November 11 last year a soldier, home on leave from the Army, was punched in the face by a man in the takeaway at around 3am, and suffered a “career and life changing” broken jaw.
Sgt Lovick said: “If there had been door staff there, maybe this incident wouldn’t have happened.
“The premises are not policing themselves and are contributing to crime and disorder.”
He said CCTV at the premises was generally good, but a 6ft by 6ft blind spot was not covered by the existing cameras.
Waheed Akhtar, who runs other takeaways in Wigan, Blackburn and Accrington, said he had been “let down” by his manager, who had run the takeaway for four years.
He said: “I think the management has not taken this as seriously as they should.”
He said the duo had signed a contract with a security firm called UKPS in December, to provide door staff from 2am onwards, and a member of staff had undergone Security Industry Authority training to act as a back-up, so there could be “no excuses” for Mr Bashir.
He added: “It has been made very clear to the manager that if no security turns up at 2am then you lock the doors, turn the lights off and go home.”
Councillors asked to see security logbooks but were told the duo did not have them to hand or a key to their premises, as they had not visited it personally for at least two years.
But Coun Dave Wilson said: “You are responsible for the premises - not your manager.
“We are protecting the people of Preston here.”
Sgt Lovick added: “I don’t believe there is a logbook in existence. If there was they would have brought it.”
Coun Bobby Cartwright said she was “disturbed” that Mr Bashir had continued as manager of the takeaway when he was ignoring the duo’s instructions.
After more than two hours of deliberations, councillors decided to modify the conditions of the takeaway’s licence.
They said Dixie Fried Chicken must employ and keep a logbook of its door staff from 2am on Friday, Saturday and Sunday morning, and be “closed and cleared of all patrons” by 4.30am.
And they ruled that its licence would be suspended until the CCTV system was extended to cover the whole restaurant.
The takeaway has three weeks to make an appeal once they receive this decision in writing, which effectively gives the owners one month to make the necessary changes or the restaurant will be shut down.