An award-winning restaurant will have its premises licence stripped temporarily after a sting uncovered numerous health and safety issues, as well as dozens of “clearly-occupied” beds, leading authorities to believe illegal workers were living there.
Bromley Council ruled the premises licence for Shampan at the Spinning Wheel, in Westerham, would be suspended for three months, following a review hearing in June.
It came after a March 13 raid by the council, immigration authorities and police revealed 25 “clearly occupied” beds crammed onto the first floor of the premises, as well as numerous health and safety breaches.
The licensing committee’s decision, released to the public on July 10, saw councillors reject assertions from Shampan’s management the beds were only used for kitchen staff to “mooch out” between shifts.
“The committee accepted the evidence that there were 25 beds in total that were clearly occupied overnight with suitcases, wardrobes and drawers full of clothes and toiletries in every shower room,” the decision minutes read.
“The committee accordingly did not accept the denial from the management to the effect no staff were living on the first floor of the premises.”
The committee also took issue with numerous health and safety issues found during the search.
These included a lack of fire precautions around the premises, the failure of the business to clean the ventilation extraction system, the absence of a handrail on the stairs to the first floor, and concerns that employees smoked cigarettes in one of the bedrooms.
In their decision, members stated they didn’t feel modifying licence conditions would address the failings.
“Given the very serious nature of the issues identified, it was felt the business should not trade until these matters were rectified; if the failings were satisfactorily addressed, then the business could continue to operate,” the decision reads.
“The licensing sub-committee considered all relevant matters on a balance of probability and decided to suspend the licence for the above premises for a period of three months with immediate effect.”
The business will now have to rectify its health and safety issues, as well as potentially applying for a house of multiple occupancy registration if they intend to continue using the first floor as residential accommodation.
Allegations that the business was housing illegal workers are set to be decided by immigration authorities.
At that meeting Sufian Miah, the premises licence holder at Shampan, said the business had proudly operated “at the fine end of Indian fine dining” in the borough of Bromley for 30 years.
He said it was a “reputable business” which has won numerous awards, with the alleged offences “damaging our reputation”.
The legal representative for Shampan told the meeting “it would be disproportionate and unfair” for the council to revoke the licence.
“We don’t have a civil penalty that’s imposable against my clients, we don’t have a criminal sanction against them, and that’s critically important,” he said.
He added there was no evidence “other than a statement from the first person detained” that there was people living in the rooms.
Shampan’s management has been contacted for comment following the decision.