Thornbury kebab van blamed for COVID-19 breaches and public nuisance by shopping centre boss
A kebab van in Thornbury has been allowed to keep trading after a neighbouring business accused it of breaking coronavirus rules and turning a blind eye to criminal and anti-social behaviour.
Thornbury Kebabs has been operating in Thornbury High Street (above) for about a decade, and parks outside the entrance to the St Mary Centre.
Owner and cook Murat Cetin applied to renew his licence last month, but the property company which owns the shopping centre – which has a kebab shop – objected.
Mr Cetin applied for the same trading hours as before: from 6pm until midnight on Sundays through Thursdays, and until 2am on Fridays and Saturdays.
Under the COVID-19 curfew for hospitality businesses, he cannot trade after 10pm unless orders are received by phone or text.
Alan Cole, who manages the St Mary Centre on behalf of the Peer Group, told a licensing hearing Mr Cetin had been seen selling hot food and drinks beyond the 10pm Covid-19 curfew and his customers showed a “distinct lack of social distancing”.
He said while most of Mr Cetin’s customers were law-abiding citizens, some of them were drunk and caused a public nuisance, criminal damage and a lot of costly mess.
Mr Cole said there were frequent fights and assaults, broken windows, and that customers frequently urinated in shop doorways and left unwanted food on the pavement.
He said while Mr Cetin picked up the discarded polystyrene containers, the council and the shopping centre were left to deal with the “aftermath”, which included litter, grease stains, urine, blood and “bodily fluids”.
Mr Cetin continued to serve customers after they had caused a problem, he added.
“Sadly we have noted that Mr Cetin does not seem to have any sense of empathy for the immediate environment and lacks civic responsibility as a business owner,” he said.
But Mr Cetin told the committee he had been closing at 10pm since the coronavirus curfew was introduced and that he encouraged customers to socially distance.
He said he was happy to work with Mr Cole to help address problems of anti-social behaviour and criminal damage.
But, he said, he was not responsible for the behaviour of everyone on the street, especially drunken people who had left the nearby pubs and who were not necessarily his customers.
“Some of the issues [are] nothing to do with my business,” Mr Cetin said.
“This is my only job. I support my family and I have eight and 12-year-old kids.”
Police did not object to Mr Cetin’s application and neither did any other statutory consultees.
But the council’s licensing officers recommended councillors refuse it due to the alleged criminal and anti-social behaviour of his customers.
However the licensing committee concluded there was no documented evidence linking that behaviour with Mr Cetin’s business and renewed his street trading licence.
Members recommended Mr Cetin “actively engages with the management of the St Mary Centre to alleviate the issues regarding anti-social behaviour in the vicinity of the street trading site”.
The meeting took place virtually on Wednesday, October 21.
By Amanda Cameron, Local Democracy Reporting Service