South Yorkshire cafe owned by former England cricket captain appeals late night licence decision

The owners of a South Yorkshire cafe that was denied a licence to provide late-night refreshments has appealed the decision.

Monday, 4th January 2021, 4:45 pm

Matki Chai applied for a licence to provide hot drinks and snacks on Friday and Saturday nights from 11am until 2am, at the cafe on Fitzwilliam Road, Eastwood, Rotherham.

The cafe, owned by former Yorkshire and England under-19s cricket captain Azeem Rafiq, was denied the licence to open late at a meeting of Rotherham Council’s licensing sub-committee in July.

The application was officially refused on the grounds that the site is close to St Ann’s Junior and Infant School entrance, which would “conflict with health guidance”, and that the cafe would “increase noise and disturbance to directly adjacent neighbours during the evening and night time hours.”

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Rotherham Town Hall. Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe 27th May 2020.

Concerns were raised at the meeting by South Yorkshire Police, councillor Kathleen Reeder and the council’s children’s and licensing service about increased anti-social behaviour in the area, child sexual or criminal exploitation, and the area being subject to a Public Spaces Protection Order.

Khurrum Bhatti, on behalf of the applicant, said this was not the case, and the late night license was required so that members of the community would have somewhere to eat a late evening meal and socialise over tea.

Dan Jarvis, Mayor of the Sheffield City Region, has written to the council’s appeal board asking them to overturn their decision.

He wrote: “It is because I have a good working relationship with Azeem and his family that I have been very concerned about the way that my constituents have been treated.

“As a non-alcoholic evening venue, the family thought it sensible to apply for a late night licence to allow them to stay open past 11pm on Fridays and Saturdays, as well as Eid.

“During this process, it appears that they were subject to more stringent checks and additional criteria that other businesses in the immediate vicinity were not.

“The business was forced to agree not to sell tea and food to minors after 6pm unless they’re with a ‘responsible adult’ and not to sell tea or food at all to minors after 11pm. Despite agreeing to all conditions, the licence was refused.

“These conditions were not imposed on other businesses in the vicinity.

“To date, Makti Chai have not been given a satisfactory reason why their business has been subject to these additional criteria.

“This business will be a good community asset for those individuals who want to socialise in the evening, seeking a non-alcoholic alternative.”

Now that the owners have lodged an appeal, a government inspector will visit the site in order to make a decision.

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