Troubled fast food outlet Turkish Delight has been denied a request to open late after breaching a string of food safety regulations.
The SIC’s licensing committee today turned down an application by owner Saban Kusmus for a late hours catering licence. Members deemed the kebab shop operator unfit to run his business.
It follows Mr Kusmus’ appearance at Lerwick Sheriff Court yesterday where he was fined £1,200 after admitting nine charges relating to food hygiene regulations between August 2011 and January last year.
Mr Kusmus had applied for a licence enabling him to operate from 11pm to 12am on Mondays through to Thursdays, 11pm to 3am on Fridays and Saturdays and 11pm to 1am on Sundays.
South mainland councillor Allison Duncan moved the application be refused. He highlighted a submission from Northern Constabulary which showed police had filed no fewer than 11 incident reports concerning Turkish Delight since 2007.
The report showed instances of broken glass, a stick and a meat cleaver being used and assault.
“It surprises me that nobody has been seriously hurt. I don’t think this gentleman is a fit and proper person to run business premises like this, given the facts before us in the inspector’s report.”
Chief inspector Angus MacInnes insisted police had spent too much time dealing with Turkish Delight.
“As area commander I consider this to be an unacceptably high volume of calls for any one premise in our community.”
Mr Duncan was backed by council convener and former chief inspector for Shetland, Malcolm Bell. He reminded members the application was only to operate during certain hours. Mr Bell said the policy on late licenses dated back to 2005 and warranted some re-examination.
“I think we need to look at the late hours scheduling policy. Personally, I feel it’s far too lax.”
The committee also heard from objector Michael Stewart, who owns the nearby 3 Brentham Court. He highlighted drunkenness in the area and problems such as fat coming out of drains.
Mr Stewart spoke about a “bad period” between May and September 2011, when Mr Kusmus was away from Shetland.
He alleged he was physically threatened by illegal workers from Bulgaria who had been sleeping on the upper floor of the building.
He added he had, in the past, cleaned up vomit, faeces and litter, and had been forced to carry out repairs on his property which had been vandalised.
In a letter to the committee he stated: “I have dealt with such a multitude of problems in the past that when I visit the premises I expect to encounter a new problem. In my experience of developing property at Brentham Court, the late licence has made life difficult and I feel that the alcohol-related violence and vandalism in the area is damaging.”
But it was not all bad news for Mr Kusmus. Letters of support were submitted from nearby Cindy’s hairdressers and the Box Shop.
Head of environmental health, Maggie Sandison, said the premises had been made “a lot cleaner” since Mr Kusmus’ son had become involved in the business.
Speaking through an interpreter via a telephone link, Mr Kusmus said he had suffered from a heart attack two years ago. He had gone back to Turkey for nine months, “and I couldn’t control my business very well.”
He said: “I have been doing this business for 25 years. But now everything is under control. I have a son, and everything is going well.”
He added he planned to open a restaurant above the kebab shop in May. His arguments were not enough to reassure the committee, however.
Cecil Smith told members: “What we have got in front of us today is quite serious. I feel that what I have heard doesn’t encourage me and I’m not sure I’d have the confidence that these premises could continue any better than they have in the past.”
Mr Kusmus was told he could appeal the committee’s decision.