Hundreds of shisha pipes have been destroyed as Manchester City Council continues its crackdown against illegal shisha bars.
In recent years there has been a trend in Manchester for existing businesses such as cafes and restaurants to transform themselves into shisha bars, taking advantage of the rising popularity of smoking shisha.
However, in most cases these transformations are often carried out without the relevant planning permission, and are therefore operating unlawfully..
During the past month Manchester City Council compliance officers as well as members of HMRC have seized pipes, tobacco and other paraphernalia to secure compliance with planning enforcement notices previously issued to four shisha bars on Manchester’s famous Curry Mile.
Antalya, Threesixty, Dubai and Wanasah cafes, all on Wilmslow Road, Rusholme, were operating as shisha bars without the relevant planning permission. All four bars have been repeatedly warned that they were not allowed to operate in this way, however every attempt by the Council to reach a settlement with the owners and their operators have been rebuffed.
As a result over the past month 338 shisha pipes and associated equipment, worth an estimated £10,000, were seized from the bars. They have since been destroyed.
Also, HMRC were able to confiscate roughly 93kg of shisha tobacco, resulting in an avoidance of an estimated £11,500 of duty.
The owners of these premises are now required to cease all trading as a shisha bar. If this is not complied with they risk prosecution, an unlimited fine and further confiscations by the Council to ensure the illegal trading stops.
During the raids a number of fixed penalty notices were also handed out by the council for breaches of the Health Act 2006. This act made it illegal to smoke indoors; the smoking of shisha indoors is also covered by this legislation.
Councillor Angeliki Stogia, Executive Member for Environment, Planning and Transport, said: “It is deeply disappointing to see that in spite of repeated warnings the owners of these establishments continued to act like they were above the law. I hope we have sent a clear message that this is not the case.
“Using planning closure notices is a new approach being taken by the council to combat individuals who ignore planning law simply to make easy money.
Councillor Rabnawaz Akbar, Executive Member for Neighbourhoods, said: “It has become an all too familiar sight to see shisha bars pop up as if overnight, particularly in our South Manchester communities.
“These bars are not legal and on more than one occasion have been a magnet for anti-social behaviour lowering, the standard of life for ordinary people who live close by to them. As a council we will always support legitimate and well run businesses, but when premises such as these begin to have a negative impact on our communities we will certainly act.