Takeaway boss slams council and courts after being refused permission to stay open for longer

Mohammed Hajjaj
Mohammed Hajjaj

A TAKEAWAY boss has hit out at the council and the courts after he was refused permission to stay open longer at weekends.

Mohammed Hajjaj took over the shop formely known as Mario’s in Church Street, Hartlepool, in September.

The shop now trades as Maram’s and applied to the licensing chiefs at Hartlepool Borough Council to serve customers up until 4am on Fridays and Saturdays.

But the council’s licensing sub-committee refused after objections from the police.

Two years ago the premises had its hours reduced because of a history of crime and disorder under the previous name and manager.

But Mr Hajjaj says the problems have now gone and various other bars and takeaways in Church Street can stay open until 4am.

He appealed against the council’s decision at Hartlepool Magistrates Court last week but was unsuccessful.

Mr Hajjaj said: “I feel really angry. I sell food not alcohol and I get refused by the council, and then I get refused by the court.

“I am just trying to make a living for my family. I know there have been many problems in the past but I have sorted things out.

“I employ a doorman and have changed the layout inside. I do everything that is asked of me.”

Mr Hajjaj moved Maram’s from a shop further down Church Street in September saying trade was too quiet where he was.

“Many customers want me to open until 4am,” he said. “You get more people buying food at that time.”

Ian Harrison, the council’s principal trading standards and licensing officer, said in 2011 the authority adopted a policy that longer licensing hours were not helping the prevention of crime and disorder.

He said: “Whilst every licence application is considered on its individual merits, in this case, and after considering evidence from Cleveland Police and Mr Hajajj, the council’s licensing sub-committee decided that an extension of the licence for 34 Church Street would not promote the prevention of crime and disorder and refused his application to extend trading hours beyond 2am.

“Mr Hajjaj appealed against this decision but on December 12, Hartlepool Magistrates’ Court dismissed his appeal.”