Nelson pizza shop at centre of ‘lawlessness, harassment, noise, litter and traffic row’ claims
Disputes involving a Pendle pizza takeaway shop, delivery drivers and residents over alleged lawlessness, noise, litter, traffic problems, harassing behaviour to neighbours and threats to a woman were heard at a Pendle Council licensing hearing.
A series of complaints were made against Papa’s Pizza, based at 144-146 Leeds Road, Nelson. The main road has double-yellow lines so delivery drivers, pizza customers and residents are all competing for space on side streets and back lanes, especially around St Philip’s Street and Harvey Street.
Residents repeatedly called the situation and tensions as a nightmare. They also called for police or other enforcement officers to take action about alleged traffic offences.
The Nelson takeaway has grown over 15 years. It now has 10 staff and four drivers, and is a hub for other shops too, it was said. But it had ignored licensing conditions designed to prevent public nuisance or disturbance and protect people from harm, a Pendle Council licensing review heard.
Pendle Council licensing officer Wajed Iqbal set out the background at the meeting. He said a number of letters and emails had been sent to the business over recent times, reminding Papa’s Pizza to follow all conditions to prevent disturbance, nuisance and dangers. The conditions had originally been set in the past when Papa’s Pizza was a smaller business in one shop building. It is now expanded in two adjoining buildings.
The licensing officer said Papa’s Pizza could have appealed against the conditions to Pendle Council, if it disagreed with them. However, it had done nothing. The takeaway had also wrongly implied that the conditions were drawn-up by Mr Iqbal. It was the licensing committee’s decision, not his. However, because of no response from Papa’s Pizza, the issue had ended up with a licensing review.
Mr Iqbal added: “It seems that the business has no regard or respect for the decisions of the council and continues to allow breaches. The premises license holder should be fully-aware of the conditions, which reflect licensing objectives such as the need to prevent public nuisance and disturbance, and to protect children from harm. ”
He then said: “In October, there was an alleged incident when staff are said to have threatened a young woman resident who had just moved into a property with possible violence and threats against her. Such alleged behaviour is not acceptable from anyone – the premises licence holder or staff. Imagine if that was your own mother or sister being threatened by a group of males?”
Coun Kieran McGladdery said the takeaway business was obviously successful, which was good. But conditions had to be followed. He said: “If you don’t agree with conditions then you appeal. If the proprietor does not appeal then he should adhere to the conditions.”
Local resident Ice Hussain said: “I am not here to stop anyone’s business or livelihood. But at the same time the law must be followed or we will be a lawless society. Pendle is on the brink of going in that direction. You can park wherever you want. Do whatever you want. There’s no policing anywhere. You can literally get away with murder. This is how Pendle has come to be seen and it is a laughing stock of other areas. Nobody wants to come here. Sooner or later it will be labelled a no-go area.
“There needs to be some regulations. There needs to be law set in place that people follow. Simple as that.”
Regarding Papa’s Pizza, he said: “The shop has been there for some years. Business has grown, which is brilliant. But we have to ask if the business has outgrown that site? They now have four or five drivers. But the streets around are residential and there are trucks and cars coming, day-and-night. The business has had opportunities to come to licensing meetings and explain their views. But none of that has happened.
“They basically police themselves, which is wrong. They should not be hassling people or threatening residents. Communication is the key but none has taken place. They have chosen to ignore, deny or flaunt the conditions on a regular basis. Even after the council officer visited them, they said ‘to hell with you guys’.”
Tanveera Akhtar, another Nelson resident, also spoke. He described parking, noise and alleged threats. He also said Pappa’s Pizza had put seating upstairs, which he thought meant it had more expansion plans to become somewhere customers can eat inside.
Mr Akhtar added: “The problems have been ongoing for some time. There is noise with pots and pans being banged. There are parking problems. The drivers are lawless. They harass us and flash their lights at people who are momentarily parking in the back street or visiting people. They use the back street so why can’t we? Tea-times are horrendous with vehicles.
“There’s also another business, Pizza Perfection, next door but they don’t harass us. They find other ways to get through. They don’t blast their horns or harass or intimidate us.”
He then said: “I witnessed at first-hand three men threatening a lady, saying they would put her front window in. She is not here today but I said I would speak-up for her. She is quite nervous.
“I don’t want to fall out with Papa’s Pizza but it’s like talking to a brick wall. There is one gentleman there who is very nice and we can chat to. But I don’t want to be seen as a winger or a moaner.”
He said litter was another problem, such as shrink-wrapping, paper and drinks cans. He understood the Nelson shop was a hub for a number of other shops. In the past, he said Papa’s Pizza had run Christmas offers, increasing traffic and customer activity even more.
He added: “I love the Christmas season even though I’m a Muslim. It should be a nice time. But Papa’s Pizza had special offers in the past few years which made it a nightmare with people parking all over the place. There was hardly any police around because they are on a skeleton staff at Christmas. There are also other takeaways and an MOT centre on Leeds Road. It can be a nightmare. But we live here. Businesses need to show some respect.”
‘CONDITIONS ARE UNFAIR’
Mohammed Sharaz spoke as the premise’s licence holder. He is also known as Shair Ahmed in Pendle Council licensing papers.
He said: “We have been operating for 15 years and never had any issues until recently. Has Pendle Council ever written to us in the past? Have the police ever complained?
“We have grown and have invested £100,000 in the shop, which is investment in the town, and paid our rates etc. We don’t actually own the property. Pizza Perfection was operating before us. We have spoken about parking and said we can all use the backstreet together. A few months ago I spoke to Pizza Perfection and asked if there were any problems. They said no. He said previous people had cause problems but we are all OK.
“The only problem was when I got a letter after we had extended the shop between 146 and 144 Leeds Road. The letter said I had to re-apply with licensing. I found it strange but said ‘no problem’. But then I got a letter with some conditions I thought were unfair.
“One condition was that we were to refuse to serve customers if they had parked on double-yellow lines. We are not the police. We cannot do that. Nobody can do that. It was very difficult. If people park on double-yellow lines then the police should come and fine them. No problem.
“These conditions are unfair to us. Enforcing double-yellow lines should apply to all businesses not just ours. However, it is unheard-of for shop-keepers to say ‘sorry, I can’t serve you because of where you’ve parked'”
Regarding alleged threats, Mr Sharaz said: “I’m not aware of any of that. The woman has been there for a few months but other residents have lived there for years and never complained. I have got a mother who is 80 years old. We don’t want any problems either.”
He also said some households had multiple cars.
“These chaps speaking today have got eight or nine cars between them. That’s not a problem. We show them courtesy and, if need be, we or the drivers park elsewhere. ”
Conservative Coun Ash Sutcliffe said: “I run a furniture shop. I tell my customers that they cannot park outside my shop but advise them on alternative parking. You have the option to tell your customers and advise them. But you chose not to.”
Mr Sharaz replied: “Food is different to furniture sales. We can’t afford to throw away a £50 order. I’d rather you told us to close one hour earlier at 11pm than put these unfair conditions on us. ”
Conservative Coun McGladdery praised the firm’s success but said the high-volume of food sales, the high numbers of customers picking-up food and the number of driver-deliveries created particular challenges at the Leeds Road site. He suggested Papa’s Pizza needed another location.
Lib-Dem Coun Dorothy Lord said: “I do have some sympathies with the business but you cannot Ignore a licensing condition. That’s why you are here at this review.”
After private talks, the licensing committee decided not to take any enforcement action against Papa’s Pizza. Instead some conditions were amended, naming where delivery drivers and customer should park in relation to St Philip’s Street, Harvey Street and the back street between them. Furthermore, councillors said they would contact parking enforcement officers to make more visits to the Leeds Road area.