9th Dec, 2016

Councillor whose eateries breach planning rules faces calls to resign

Les Reid 24th Aug, 2016 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

A COVENTRY councillor and businessman who owns eateries in the city operating without planning permission is facing questions in the council chamber and resignation calls.

It follows the Coventry Observer exclusively revealing the story about property owner and restaurateur Rois Ali – who became a high-ranking Labour councillor as deputy cabinet member for public health and sport immediately after his election as councillor for Cheylesmore in May, after his long association with Coventry Labour party.

Opposition councillors are now planning to raise detailed questions concerning Coun Ali’s planning and business matters at the next full meeting of the council on September 6. One is already calling for his resignation and demanding he apologises to residents.

We revealed two weeks ago that councillors on Coventry City Council’s planning committee had privately finally decided to take enforcement action against businesses at two of his premises – the Ginger Orange Indian restaurant, Kenpas Highway, Styvechale, and The Village Cafe, Station Avenue, Tile Hill.

The committee of councillors on August 4 in private decided to serve an enforcement notice on Village Cafe to stop trading within two months, and remove all goods and equipment, due to the planning breaches.

Ginger Orange has been given one month to stop hot food takeaways and deliveries for planning breaches on highway safety grounds and disturbance to residents.

The Village Cafe has been open more than a year despite being refused planning permission twice by councillors on planning committee – in 2013 and last year – and losing two appeals to independent inspectors, the latest being in March. Concerns included noise for residents and extra traffic.

Another party was refused planning permission for an Italian restaurant at 50 Kenpas Highway in 2009 before Ginger Orange opened about a year ago. Land Registry documents show Coun Ali has owned the site since 2007.

Failure to comply with an enforcement notice is illegal. Further applications and appeals could follow.

Coun Ali told us that, as ‘landlord’, he was “working with the tenants and council officers to try and resolve the issues.”

The council’s Register of Members’ Interests for Coun Ali includes the Ginger Orange and Village Cafe premises among 18 sites for which he declared a ‘beneficial interest’. They include others restaurant and takeaway premises around the city.

Conservative councillor Tim Mayer is seeking to raise a series of questions at next month’s council meeting.

He told the Observer: “This councillor is not only deputy cabinet member for public health, but sits on the business, economy and enterprise scrutiny board. How can he continue given he has ignored the licensing rules he is supposed to help protect?

“I think the Labour leadership needs to look at Coun Ali’s complete disregard for the rules he is supposed to help govern and explain given his history and past issues how he managed to get through the candidate selection process in the first place.

“I also think Coun Ali needs to apologise for the harm and upset he has caused Coventry residents by allowing his businesses and tenants to operate outside of the licensing rules, causing much distress to local Coventry people.

“I hope he does the right thing and concludes he isn’t fit to continue as the bridge between the community he serves and the council.”

Coun Ali owned the Rupali Indian restaurant in Tile Hill in the 1990s before opening the MYO restaurant upstairs at the high-profile grade 11-listed old fire station building in Millennium Place, city centre, before its closure in 2010.