Owner of South Yorkshire takeaway business hits out at council for forcing him to close during lockdown
The owner of a healthy meal prep company has hit out at Rotherham Council after it forced him to close his business.
Ben Hawksworth started his company, Nutri Fast, in July 2020, providing balanced, nutritious meals from the same unit as the Ultra Flex gym on Effingham Street, in Rotherham.
Despite being a separate business to the gym, which is closed under national lockdown rules, Nutri Fast has also been ordered to close by Rotherham Council.
A physiotherapy service that helps people suffering with post operation chronic pain, which is based in the same unit, has also been ordered to close.
However, Mr Hawksworth left the business on Friday to discover an “environmental crime scene” notice has been taped to the door, whilst he was inside.
Mr Hawksworth told the Local Democracy Reporting Service service: “The council did a huge U-turn on what they had previously said, and threatened us with prosecution and fines if we didn’t cease trading immediately.
“I was inside the gym on my own and I couldn’t get out of the door, as they had taped the front door shut with environmental crime scene tape.
“I couldn’t even speak when I saw the tape outside. The meal prep company is a limited company which is totally separate to the gym and any owner in there.
“1000 metres around the corner, you’ve got a KFC with a gym above it in the same brick building and KFC is running as normal.
“We were allowed to function totally fine in the November lockdown, where people could pick food up outside.”
Mr Hawksworth is currently paying for the running costs of the business, including wages for the two cooks from his own pocket, as he is not entitled to any government help.
“We’ve been absolutely hammered with lockdowns, and we don’t get any furlough,” he added.
However, a spokesman for Rotherham Council said that the takeaway must close, as it is not “self-contained”.
Rotherham Council confirmed it served a prohibition notice on Friday January 8, requiring UltraFlex Gym to close.
A council spokesman said: “By law, the gym must close during lockdown.
“The business is a gym in an industrial unit, but we are aware that within the gym there is an area used for physiotherapy and a kitchen that produces foods and sells supplements.
“The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (All Tiers) (England) Regulations 2020 require that unless the other businesses are completely self-contained, with a separate entrance and separate facilities then it must also stay closed.
“This is due to them operating within a business premises that is required to close. Both businesses can continue to trade at other suitable premises if they follow the current government lockdown legislation.
“All parties were contacted on January 11 to ensure that they fully understand the closure requirement.
“We would like to reiterate that both the physiotherapist and the food preparation business can continue operating, but not from within this unit.”
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