AT least SEVEN businesses connected with high-ranking councillor Rois Ali have been served with enforcement action for operating without planning permission and breaching rules, we can reveal.
We revealed last month Coventry City Council’s planning committee privately served enforcement notices to stop or restrict trading at Ginger Orange Indian restaurant, Styvechale and The Village Cafe, Tile Hill – amid public accusations of special treatment.
But both are now finally set to receive retrospective planning permission tomorrow (Thursday, September 29), when council officers will recommend councillors give the go-ahead.
Coun Ali told us last month he was just the “landlord” for both and would be “working with the tenants and council officers to try and resolve the issues.”
But the Coventry Observer has now obtained evidence that the council had previously served enforcement action notices against Coun Ali (as a named party) at five other premises for ‘planning breaches’ and operating without planning permission.
The most recent was in November 2014 at Chicken Express hot food takeaway at 39, Winsford Avenue, Allesley Park, where a rear extension considered an eyesore was built without permission.
The others were at 190 Clay Lane (Clay Oven takeaway), 487 Beake Avenue, 1081 Foleshill Road, and land adjacent to 267 Broad Street, before measures were taken to comply with the notices.
Coun Ali declared he had a “beneficial interest” in all seven premises on the council’s Register of Members’ Interests, and in 11 more land sites.
This year, he became Labour councillor for Cheylesmore and deputy cabinet member for public health and sport.
He has been a friend of Coventry Labour MPs and councillors since the 1990s when he owned the Rupali restaurant, Tile Hill. He also operated the now closed MYO restaurant at the old fire station building in Millennium Place.
The Village Cafe has operated despite being refused planning permission twice on grounds of road safety, noise and smells – in 2013 and last year – and losing two appeals to independent inspectors, the latest in March.
Concerns about disturbance to neighbours from early morning use, and night-time takeaway use, were upheld by inspectors.
Last month’s enforcement notice ordered it to stop trading completely within two months.
But planning officers are now recommending councillors approve a retrospective planning application for a cafe/takeaway from 7.30am to 6pm, after the front door was moved to minimise disturbance to neighbours, and they now rule out highways concerns.
Conservative Westwood ward councillor Tim Mayer and some neighbours are formally objecting over traffic, parking and disturbance from noise and fumes.
Ginger Orange was last month given one month to stop hot food takeaways and deliveries for planning breaches regarding early evening restaurant opening hours, parking and fume extraction.
Now the planning committee is recommended to grant earlier restaurant opening hours from 5pm (currently 7.30pm). Planning officers now claim there are no parking issues after the restaurant conducted its own ‘survey’.
Coun Ali told us: “The council and my tenants have been working really well and have come to an agreement. That’s why the officers are recommending approval and I hope the planning committee approves.
“I am a landlord and tenants have sometimes slipped on meeting conditions of planning consent. When enforcement notices have been received in each case the issues have been resolved.”
He denied there was any intention of personal gain from a pattern of the businesses exploiting planning loopholes.