Exit from Brick Lane after bar liquor licence bid is rejected

The ‘Exit’ bar has finally got its marching orders to quit Brick Lane after being refused its latest bid for a liquor license.

Police claimed giving the bar back the license it lost two years ago would add to Brick Lane’s reputation of “a corridor of disorder.”

Ex-waiter Mohammed Bashar and his business partner Tabbassum Qumer had their application turned down on Tuesday by Tower Hamlets council—spelling victory for protesting residents.

“I can’t see another bar helping to deal with crime in the area,” Pc Alan Cruickshank told the council’s licensing committee on Tuesday night.

“The whole of Brick Lane is a corridor of violence and disorder. This bar would only increase the likelihood of yet more anti-social disturbance to residents.”

The bar lost its license in 2009 when owners Shahin Zamman and Hussain Ali continually breached conditions with “excessive late night drinking,” the committee heard.

Since then it had been granted five temporary ‘special occasion’ permits—but was now bidding for its permanent license under ‘new management.’

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The authority received 14 letters and emails from residents protesting at the bid. These included leading Brick Lane campaigner Roger Foss, who wrote: “Alcohol-fuelled loutish behaviour, filthy language, crime, street urination, defecation, vomiting and graffiti is already creating deep distress in the neighbourhoods where many families with young children live.”

Mr Bashar and Mr Qumer had taken over in January, although admitting little experience of running a bar.

They sub-leased the premises to run it themselves. But there was no proof of a sub-lease. Mr Bashar told the committee he paid cash.

Tower Hamlets enforcement officer Andrew Dickson said: “We’re not convinced the leaseholder Mr Zamman has removed himself from the premises.

“He has created sub-leased to get round the licensing issue.”

The committee rejected the application, unconvinced that licensing conditions would be kept.