Takeaway plans are turned down

Sorrento in Church Street
Sorrento in Church Street

PLANS by takeaway bosses to open until 4am have been thrown out by councillors.

Forozan Eivazmohammadi, who runs Sorrento in Church Street, Hartlepool, applied to licensing chiefs to extend its hours until 4am seven days a week.

Councillors rejected the plans after police objected and because it went against Hartlepool Borough Council policy.

Speaking after the meeting, a disappointed Mr Eivazmohammadi said it could lead to Sorrento closing.

The current licence allows Sorrento to sell food until midnight from Monday to Wednesday, on Thursday, Friday and Saturdays to open until 2.30am the following morning, and on Sundays open until 1am the following morning.

But councillors were told that on two occasions since December the takeaway had served food past its licensed hours.

Officers from Hartlepool Police’s licensing unit argued crime and disorder in Church Street peaks between 2am and 4am and later opening hours would contribute to that.

The application to vary the premises licence was discussed by the council’s licensing act sub-committee.

The takeaway stayed open longer than it should on December 31 last year and April 1 this year, the meeting was told.

Mr Eivazmohammadi explained at weekends he lets revellers in until 2am and the door is shut. But on some occasions he admitted he had been unable to supply all of the waiting customers by 2.30am.

He said it led to revellers banging on the door wanting to be let in as they can see others being served.

John Ellwood, Mr Eivazmohammadi’s solicitor, suggested the council policy is aimed at trying to prevent an increase in the number of people out past 2am, but he said the people served by Sorrentos would already be out.

But Sergeant Jonathan Wrigley said: “It would add to the number of people hanging about Church Street in a drunken state.

“The longer people stay around, in my experience, the more chance there is of disorder.”

Labour councillor Jonathan Brash, chairman of the committee, said members had considered both sides, but rejected the application.

Coun Brash said a prime consideration was complying with licensing policy, which states in non-residential areas, applications for licences to allow the sale of alcohol or the supply of late night refreshment beyond 2am would normally be refused.

Coun Brash added: “The committee decided that there was no reason for refusing to vary the licence to 2am on Sundays to Wednesdays inclusive, however rejected the application to vary the hours beyond the current hours for Thursday, Friday and Saturday night.”

Speaking afterwards, PC Andrew Thorpe said: “We are very pleased with the decision.

“We believe it upholds the present licensing objectives and the police objectives for the town centre area.”

Mr Eivazmohammadi, one of five staff members, said: “We are probably going to have to close because it does not make enough money.

“We will consider the decision.”

Last March, Sorrento had its late night refreshment licence revoked over concerns the takeaway was persistently staying open longer than it should, disorder and issues with CCTV footage.

It was appealed to Hartlepool Magistrates’ Court, but before the hearing, the licence was transferred from the previous holder to Mr Eivazmohammadi.

New conditions were agreed and Sorrento re-opened last December after a refurbishment.