March takeaway has its late night licence suspended for two weeks after staff are accused of dealing drugs

14:27 26 May 2014

Chilli Hut, March.

Chilli Hut, March.

Archant

A take away accused of being a base for dealing cocaine and cannabis is to appeal a ruling which could force it to close at 11pm for a fortnight.

Abdul Rashid Licence holder at the Chilli Hut, March. Picture: Steve Williams.Abdul Rashid Licence holder at the Chilli Hut, March. Picture: Steve Williams.

Chilli Hut in March was taken to a licensing review by police who accused staff of selling drugs from the High Street store and through a home delivery service.

Police alleged that on one occasion three men were in possession of drugs while using a delivery vehicle.

But Abdul Rashid, who owned the store until this month and new owner, chef Abdul Ghafoor, said they were not happy with the ruling and denied there were drugs sold to customers.

Mr Rashid said: “We sacked two staff when we thought there were drugs. It was two people’s problems and we sacked them. There’s no longer a problem.”

Abdul Ghafoor, New owner of the Chilli Hut, March. Picture: Steve Williams.Abdul Ghafoor, New owner of the Chilli Hut, March. Picture: Steve Williams.

“Everyone who works here, I check; I have CCTV in my kitchen, I promise to check they don’t use (drugs). I say to blokes if I see anything fishy, fishy, I give warning. I will sack,” Mr Rashid said.

Police presented a dossier of “intelligence” to the Fenland District Council licensing review committee which dated back to 2009.

It accused the High Street takeaway of being “the base for the organisation of criminal activity, particularly by gangs.”

PC Adam Pearce said that in July last year police received information about cannabis being sold alongside food to local youths. He also alleged home delivery of drugs with two bags of cocaine sold for £25 over the counter.

FDC Licensing Panel. Left: Cllr Carol Cox, Cllr Will Sutton and Cllr Alex Miscandlon. Picture: Steve Williams.FDC Licensing Panel. Left: Cllr Carol Cox, Cllr Will Sutton and Cllr Alex Miscandlon. Picture: Steve Williams.

In November he said that police stopped a delivery vehicle and the men inside had drugs on them.

In a letter to the hearing, Rehmans Solicitors, of Peterborough, said the vehicle was not one of Chilli Hut’s but belonged to a different take away in town and it was unfair that it was being linked to them.

The driver used to work for Chilli Hut and was dismissed, the hearing heard.

The letter states that owners were unaware of the sale of drugs last summer and once they were informed they immediately dismissed the employee.

Fenland District Council Licensing Officer, Kim Winterton. Picture: Steve Williams.Fenland District Council Licensing Officer, Kim Winterton. Picture: Steve Williams.

Councillor Will Sutton, who chaired Tuesday’s hearing, said: “In our opinion the licence has been contravened because they have not prevented crime and disorder and there is a public safety issue.”

The committee suspended the late night serving licence for 14 days which means Chilli Hut must stop serving fast food at 11pm instead of the usual 3am deadline. The suspension begins in 21 days time.

Mr Sutton said the decision had been made because: “We treat the issue of selling drugs from the premises particularly seriously.”

Chilli Hut owners have 21 days to appeal the ruling.

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