Jewellery business objects to cafe alcohol licence in Birmingham

Buckingham Street, Hockley. Photo: Google

TMC Café and Lounge, in Hockley, had applied for a licence to sell alcohol from 10am to 3am Monday to Thursday, and until 5.30am from Friday to Sunday. They had hoped to remain open to the public from 10am to 3.30am (Monday to Thursday) and 10am to 6am (Friday to Sunday).

But the applicant, Frehwet Ngusse, had agreed with West Midlands Police to cease all licensable activities at 2am from Sunday to Thursday and 4am on Friday and Saturday. The premises is set to be closed at 2.30am Sunday to Thursday and 4.30am on Friday and Saturday.

It comes after an anonymous letter was received by Birmingham city council’s licencing committee objecting to the cafe due to “hippie crack canisters” littering the streets.

It said: “There is a big drug problem in the area, with the front of our factory being inundated with hippie crack cannisters [sic] and empty drink cans and shisha plastic tubes.

“There are gangs of people going in and out of the factory and it is intimidating for myself and people cross the road to avoid walking past.”

Gabriel Malas, the director of KV Manufacturing, at Buckingham Street, told the licencing committee: “I do not know [Mr Ngusse] who spoke, never met him, never spoke to him.

“We never gave them permission to have drinks, or a restaurant or a cafe. The place is an industrial building and set for offices. So this is why I can’t understand why they are doing this without our permission, without our consent. They seems to do whatever they want.

“I don’t live in Birmingham, I live in Kent. I’ve been told by managers there that there is a lot of litter there. And people are frightened even to walk in the streets.”

Mr Malas claimed West Midlands Police had “twice raided” the building due to suspicious smells. He also said he had filed civil legal proceedings against Mr Ngusse over disputes and breaches of the lease for the building.

Councillor Simon Morrall said: “If we were to grant a licence, the civil case would go on. But I think it’s really important for the committee that the applicant is aware. There is a hierarchy going on, and the applicant wasn’t aware of the civil dispute was happening.

“I wouldn’t want the applicant to get a licence from us and put loads of money into a business venture that wouldn’t happen.”

Mr Malas had successfully appealed against a 150-capacity bar opening late at night. At the time councillors had stated they were “not at all persuaded” if Flame Cafe Lounge could operate.

Milos Shisha Bar and Lounge, also on Buckingham Street, continues to trade illegally, despite a successful appeal by KV Manufacturing.

But Mr Ngusse said: “The landlord is our neighbour and that is where the objections are coming from. I don’t personally know the landlord. I would like to have a connection with them because I am more than happy to look after their business.”

Mr Ngusse disagreed with Mr Malas objections, adding that while he understood Mr Malas’ worries about violence, he believed other tenants were “nice people”.

“I know there is a business upstairs who do music and stuff. They’re quite nice people. They might come across, I don’t know, They will work out three or four people going in and they’re not intimidating at all.”

Mr Ngusse claimed his own business was investigated by West Midlands Police for drugs, but none were found.

A decision on the licence application will be made in five working days.

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