Unimpressed with the council’s refusal to bend the law shisha bar owners leave meeting
Shisha bosses met with council members to discuss the future of their venues on the Curry Mile but some refused to stay and walked out after 20 minutes.
As The Mancunion recently reported, Shisha bosses requested the meeting to discuss compromises with the law to allow for them to continue with their smoking businesses indoors, illegally.
One shisha café owner was asked to leave the meeting by the chair of the meeting, Manchester City Council deputy leader, Jim Battle. Ten other traders then walked out in protest.
Councillor Battle said: “The meeting was very productive, however a number of traders tried to disrupt the meeting and as a result I asked them to leave. But the meeting continued in a constructive manner. The majority of people stayed and afterwards said it was the right thing to do.”
“I think a group of people came along with the intention of being disruptive because they didn’t want to hear what was being said,” he added.
Ali Alaw, of Star Café was asked to leave the meeting. “I directed a question to the council’s legal officer and Councillor Battle interrupted and answered on her behalf,” he said.
“When I queried this he dismissed me and asked me to leave. It was a public meeting, he had no right to dismiss people.”
Shivan Amin, of Shalal Café walked out with Alaw. “They were just telling us their own points, and wouldn’t listen to what we had to say,” he said. “The attitude was awful.”
The shisha bosses put forward their own alternative ideas in order to ‘compromise’ with the law, as The Mancunion previously reported. This included the possibility of using strong extractor fans or special ‘smoking licenses.’
“I was asked about the use of extractor fans but clearly the legislation doesn’t allow for that,” said councillor Battle. “The law is clear and must be complied with.”
“The hope is that there will be compliance with the law from now on. If that’s not forthcoming then it will be enforced by a team made up of the fire service, the police, excise and customs and environmental health,” added Battle.
Mohamed Haider, of Passion Shisha Lounge said: “I think the meeting went very well. The law has been clearly explained in various languages and everyone knows where they stand.
“The council are trying to help us run our businesses legally. Any law changes that people want would have to go through parliament.
“If these places shut down, it will make it fairer for places like Passion Lounge, because at present we do business properly and we’re losing out to the illegal traders.”