Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting ECHONEWS to 80360, or email us »
Shisha bar in trouble for breaching smoking ban
10:20am Friday 4th January 2013 in Castle Point
A SHISHA pipe smoking bar could be shut down... for breaching the smoking ban.
Owner Feroz Khan, 27, opened the Mist Lounge in November hoping to bring the shisha cafe culture to Hadleigh.
But Mr Khan is now under investigation by Castle Point Council, trading standards, environmental health officers and even the police.
However, Mr Khan claims he is being “harassed” by the council and that his business is going up in smoke because of it.
He said: “I am just trying to make an honest living. We have done absolutely everything to comply with the council’s demands and it just seems like they want to do everything in their power to shut us down.
“Before starting up we did a huge amount of research about what the council would require from us, and have taken extreme caution in everything we have done.
“They must’ve come in about eight times with four or five police officers. Its driving away our customers, how is a new business supposed to survive with this level of interference?”
Worried residents and businesses owners were left stunned when a shisha pipe smoking bar was opened overnight inside a marquee tent along London Road.
The council has now served an enforcement notice on the premises alongside police, requesting the owners apply for planning permission within the next two months.
Trading standards and environmental health officers are also investigating the shisha bar, as the current layout of the premises means they are breaking UK smoking laws.
The owners have already been served with three fixed penalty fines for allowing smoking to take place on the site.
The council has also served a precautionary noise abatement notice following complaints from residents that loud music was being played through the night.
A spokesman for the council said: “Since the opening of the Shisha Bar it has been necessary for Officers from four of the Council’s departments to visit – the council tax, planning, environment and licensing departments. The Council officers have been accompanied by the police – in the case of visits from the licensing officers this was a joint visit with the Police licensing officer.
“We have issued three fixed penalty notices on the owners for allowing smoking to take place on the premises. This was only after the owner had ignored advice from the Council as to how he could carry out his business without breaking the law. We have no record of the owner seeking planning advice from the Council before the building opened and no planning application has been received.”
Shisha is a type of syrupy tobacco which can come in a variety of flavours and is legal to smoke in the UK.
Mr Khan says he is now considering taking legal action against the council.
He added: “We’ve opened the tent up more, we’ve put up no smoking signs, we make sure we’re shut by 11pm and with regards to noise, the traffic from London Road is louder than our music. We’re being so cooperative but they just want us out.”