The owner of a curry house that lost its bid to serve booze in Cardiff’s saturation zone has hit out at councillors for “effectively banning” new business.
Businessman Kishore Kancherla, owner of Pappadums N Chutneys due to open on City Road, Roath, in May saw his application to serve alcohol at the restaurant from 11am to 11pm daily thrown out by councillors on Friday.
Police and councillors had objected to the application on fears that it would increase drink-fuelled crime and antisocial behaviour.
But a furious Mr Kancherla revealed he had spent £45,000 renovating the restaurant already – but says he has lost half of his business “from the beginning” because of the decision.
He told the Echo: “The problems of crime and disorder which they mentioned would not have been created by an Indian restaurant.
“I was asking for a licence to 11pm and the problems occur after 11pm – so I don’t see the reason for automatically rejecting it. And the incidents increased when they introduced the policy anyway.
“The decision will obviously have a huge effect on my business. People want to have a curry and a pint of beer. I won’t be able to attract customers and I’ll lose that investment.
“The policy is killing new business – they are effectively banning anyone new coming in and it just means the existing businesses have no competition.
“If they are going to reject any business applying in the area, why bother asking them to apply at all?”
Police told a licensing sub-committee hearing that in the first year of the saturation zone policy being in place (2009-2010), there was an increase in 106 incidents in the area from 543 in 2008-2009 when there was no policy, to 649 after it was brought in.
But South Wales Police licensing officer PC Anthony Roach told the hearing: “I am not saying the policy is not working, as the police believe that if the policy was not in force, the total incidents would much higher than it is today.
“Even with the saturation policy in force, there has been an increase of 106 – if there is an increase of licensed premises in this area, it would be higher.”
He also told the hearing that the drinking earlier in the evening contributed to problems later on, which the police would then have to deal with.
The restaurant had also faced objections from councillors Mark Stephens and Richard Jerrett, who argued that it would “exacerbate” the problem of antisocial behaviour.
A Cardiff council spokesman said that each case was considered on merit and that applicants had to produce evidence that they wouldn’t make existing problems worse.
He said: “The committee has guidelines to follow in such instances and decided that as the operator was unable to prove that they could operate without increasing the violent crime in the area, an alcohol licence would not be appropriate.
“Applicants have the right to appeal the decisions of the Licensing Committee.”
Graham Morgan, director of the South Wales Chamber of Commerce, said it seemed “unfair” to reject an alcohol application, describing it as an “overreaction”.
He said: “If you have a restaurant of that type, trying to appeal to an evening market, I think, notwithstanding the fact we have got these zones, it would be in a controlled environment.
“If someone entered the restaurant, they presumably wouldn’t get served. So to reject it because of the zone seems an unfair way of approaching the problem.”
He added that there was a “inconsistency” in the council’s approach, saying the fact that planning permission was granted for a refit of Pappadums N Chutney ahead of the licence rejection was “ludicrous”.
Robert Lloyd Griffiths, director of the Institute of Directors in Wales, said that he had “sympathy” with Mr Kancherla’s position.
“There needs to be a dose of common sense here. If there’s problems with drinking, let’s look at it sensibly,” he said.
“I don’t know what it is like in particular times in the evening, but it seems the case that past 1am is when trouble starts – then this licence would not have affected that.”
What do you think about the decision? What do you think about the saturation zone on City Road? Let us know in the comments below