Police call for licence to be removed from popular Spanish tapas restaurant in Northampton
Northamptonshire Police is asking for the licence for Les Olives, on Sheep Street, to be removed as they feel a lesser sanction would ‘be insufficient to act as a deterrent’.
The restaurant is currently closed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but members of Northampton Borough Council’s alcohol and gambling licensing sub-committee are due to meet through a telephone conference call today (April 2) to discuss the outcome.
The owner of the freehold of the Les Olives building however has called for the committee not to revoke the licence, and says they were informed by the restaurant owners that the people who were discovered were not in fact employees at the restaurant.
It seems likely however, due to the pandemic, that a decision could be deferred by the councillors until a later date.
A representation submitted to the committee by Northamptonshire Police outlines how immigration officers executed a warrant at the restaurant on the evening of December 12 last year, while it was open and trading.
It states: “Two immigration offenders were discovered at the premises working in the kitchen area.
“An Albanian male who admitted to having no visa and entered the UK in the back of a lorry three years earlier was detained. A female who had entered the UK legally in September 2019 from Malaysia for six months as a visitor – one of the conditions of her permitted entry was that she could not undertake any form of work during her time in the UK – was detained.
“Northamptonshire Police and the Immigration Service would consider that these individuals are being exploited as no employment protection can be afforded to the individuals. It is also considered that employing illegal workers is defrauding the revenue and the business owners are committing immigration offences.”
But in a counter representation, the landlord of the property says they want to ‘work with the responsible authorities to ensure the objective of preventing crime and disorder is upheld’.
In the written statement, the landlord writes: “I have been informed that one of the members of staff shares a residential property with the Malaysian female and she attended the premises to discuss an issue with them about the property they share.
“The Albanian male I am told is one of many who congregate outside the rear of the restaurant along with other rough sleepers. The chef sometimes provides leftover food to these rough sleepers. On this occasion the chef provided [sic] the individual with some food, who entered the premises to eat the food provided.”
The landlord also stated that they believed both the individuals had been released immediately by the Home Office officers, though could not verify this.
They stated they would be willing to take back control of the property until a ‘suitable tenant’ could be found, and said they would be ‘very concerned’ if the premises licence was revoked.
They added: “This property would become another empty property not just within the parade of already empty units in Sheep Street, but also within a town centre that is already suffering from a lack of business occupancy and an already high number of empty units. I do not wish for this property to be added onto that list.”