Lancaster restaurant boss confused by licence immigration protest

Castle Stone Grill and Kebabish restaurant, Lancaster.
Castle Stone Grill and Kebabish restaurant, Lancaster.

An Indian restaurant boss says he can’t understand why the Home Office has tried to block his bid to take over a premises licence on immigration grounds.

Nazrul Khan, manager of Bombay Balti on China Street, faces opposition from the authorities after he applied to be premises licence holder for a new Lancaster steak restaurant.

Immigration chiefs are objecting because Mr Khan still owed £9,700 from a £10,000 fine after a raid at Bombay Balti in October 2015.

A worker from Bangladesh was found to have overstayed his time in the UK and was arrested.

But Mr Khan said this was an “oversight” and couldn’t understand the objections because he had agreed a payment plan for the fine.

He also said tightening immigration laws are forcing restaurants and takeaways in the city out of business.

A hearing at Lancaster Town Hall this Friday (September 27) at 10.30am will decide if Mr Khan can take over the premises licence of Castle Stone Grill and Kebabish, a new steak restaurant on Castle Hill near Lancaster Castle.

In a letter to Lancaster City Council, the Home Office (Immigration Enforcement) said they are objecting “to prevent crime and disorder and illegal working in licensed premises”.

“We cannot be satisfied that (Mr Khan) will comply to the licensing objectives by ensuring that all employees have the right to work,” they said.

But Mr Khan said: “It was an oversight. I had the correct paperwork (for the man) but the only thing I overlooked was the date on his ID card.

“(Immigration) have a job to do. They do it accurately to their guidelines. But I feel like I’ve been hard done to.

“I am paying off the fine as we agreed so I can’t understand that. I’ve been here for 20 years and I’ve never hurt anybody.

“I give my best and I try and when these things happen you feel let down. It’s unfortunate that incident happened.”

Mr Khan said the new threshold introduced by the Government last year, which means many non-European Union migrant workers must earn £35,000 before they can settle in the UK, was making it tough for businesses like his.

“It’s making it hard to find staff,” he said.

“There are lots of businesses closing. I will run it for the next two or three years but then I’m thinking of closing myself. I think they should take a good look at their immigration policies. To me, I haven’t done anything wrong.”

The decision on whether Mr Khan can take over the Castle Stone Grill and Kebabish premises licence will be made by Lancaster City Council licensing act sub-committee.