Hastings restaurants to be stripped of licences after attack on teenage illegal worker

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Two Hastings restaurants are to be stripped of their licences following a council hearing.

On Tuesday (May 7), a Hastings Borough Council licensing panel considered police applications to revoke the licences of Ocean Spice in White Rock and The Balti Hut in Queens Road.

According to the police applications, two licence holders associated with the businesses — Shahnur Rahman and his father Siddiquar Rahman — were sentenced on November 18, 2023, for offences stemming from a January 2022 assault on an 18-year-old man from Sudan.

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Police say the teenager had been working illegally at The Balti Hut at the time and was attacked after he threatened to contact authorities about working conditions and unpaid wages.

Ocean Spice, Hastings. Picture: ContributedOcean Spice, Hastings. Picture: Contributed
Ocean Spice, Hastings. Picture: Contributed

The police application had set out how Shahnur Rahman, then licence holder for The Balti Hut, was jailed for four years for attempted GBH, and Siddiquar Rahman, licence holder for Ocean Spice, was convicted of affray and given an 18-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months.

The police application stated Shahnur Rahman’s brothers Mominur Rahman and Ridwanur Rahman also received prison sentences. Mominur Rahman was jailed for four years and five months, and Ridwanur Rahman was jailed for three years and nine months. Both were convicted of attempted GBH, the police application says.

The committee was shown CCTV footage of the assault before making their decision.

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The Balti Hut had held a licence for late night refreshments, which allowed the business to sell hot food after 11pm. This licence had been held by Shahanur Rahman, but it was transferred to another family member — named as Nafisa Rahman in council documents — in March 2024, after the police application was lodged.

Ocean Spice had a premises licence which allows for both the sale of alcohol and late night refreshments. This licence had been held by Siddiquar Rahman.

Nafisa Rahman, who attended the hearing and identified herself as Siddiquar Rahman’s daughter, said she intended to also take over management of Ocean Spice as well as The Balti Hut.

A representative for Nafisa Rahman said she had and would continue to offer new leadership for the businesses, which they argued would ensure the premises were run “in a proper manner”. They also said the four men convicted of the attack would be kept away from the businesses in future.

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Speaking at the hearing, Nafisa Rahman said: “I am a whole different entity to what has happened. Of course what has happened is unfortunate, but them being my brothers I had to sit through that case, I was there through the trial hearing for two-and-a-half weeks. There is always two sides to a story, however, of course the justice system has done what it deemed as right. It’s done.”

Inspector Simon Burroughs, representing Sussex Police at the hearing, said the businesses had been “family-run” so concerns around the management remained.

He said: “The submission that the police are putting forward is that the Rahman family as a whole have been running the two businesses in tandem together.

“The staff are interchangeable and we have seen behaviour, which we will be discussing in due course, that overlaps both businesses.”

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The panel heard how the police applications were both supported by Hastings Borough Council’s own licensing team. The Ocean Spice application was also supported by HM Immigration Enforcement.

Documents seen by the panel had set out how the licence held by Ocean Spice had previously been revoked in January 2020, after the business was fined for employing staff with no right to work in the UK on three occasions. The licence was reinstated in February 2022 after the council agreed a consent order with the restaurant in October 2021.

After hearing from all parties the panel opted to revoke the licences held by both businesses. The full reasons for the decision are expected to be published within the next five working days.

The businesses have the right to appeal the decisions in court.