Snooker venue which hosted sparring sessions and housed cannabis farm sees 4am drinks licence blocked

Councillors blocked a 4am drinks licence for a venue that has recently hosted sparring sessions between boxers and wrestlers and has also been used as a cannabis farm.

A recently submitted licensing application called for a snooker venue on the first floor of the old textile hall, at 51 Westgate, become a “party hall” that could host live music until 3am and serve alcohol until 4am.

But after hearing damning evidence about the history of the venue, Bradford Council’s Licensing Panel refused the application at a meeting on Tuesday.

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Located above a discount store and next to a car park, the snooker venue has a recent history of criminal incidents.

A recently submitted licensing application called for a snooker venue on the first floor of the old textile hall, at 51 Westgate, become a “party hall” that could host live music until 3am and serve alcohol until 4am. Photo: Google.

Members of West Yorkshire Police told the meeting that in recent years there have been Covid lockdown breaches at the venue, concerns have been raised over the safety of children at the property, a cannabis farm tended by an illegal immigrant has been discovered there, and a man was injured after the venue hosted an event where boxers and wrestlers can “safely” spar with each other.

Addressing the panel, PC Brown pointed out how vague the licence application was.

Describing the nature of the business, it said: “This place (sic) is open at this time but it will start at 07.00pm sometime may open later then.

“This place has turned into party hall is going to be music and birthday party and tradition (sic).”

PC Brown added: “I know English is not always the first language of some applicants, but even so, this is a very ambiguous quote.”

He said a drawing of the business’ layout included in the application contained no detail of where the bar area would be, adding: “It is crude to say the least.”

Members heard that police raided the property in November 2021. A letter from police said: “Officers attended and located a large-scale cannabis set up.

“One male was detained and stated that he had come to the UK illegally and was employed at the premises to cultivate the plants being grown.”

In May 2020, during the first lockdown, police attended and found several men playing pool together in the venue – in breach of Covid legislation.

And referring to reports of an assault at the venue in August 2021, police said: “A male states that he was assaulted at the premises during a ‘sparring’ event where boxers and wrestlers would spar with each other.”

At the meeting questions were also raised about the applicant, Ozan Aso. PC Brown said police believed this name was in fact an alias of another man – Ahmad Ali Hussain – who has the same birthday and lives at the same address as Mr Aso.

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Mr Hussain had also been the Designated Premises Supervisor for an off licence on Bolton Road that had been twice raided by Trading Standards for selling counterfeit goods.

PC Brown told members Hussain was also under investigation for another licensing matter – although they could not give any further details.

Neither Mr Aso nor Mr Hussain attended the meeting. The panel had been asked via email by an associate of the applicant if the meeting could be adjourned, but members declined to do this.

A section of the licence application in which the applicant is supposed to detail how they will reduce the risk of crime and anti-social behaviour and protect children had been left blank by Mr Aso.

PC Brown said: “Due to this I would draw the conclusion that the applicant is either naïve towards to the licensing objectives, ignorant to the objectives or simply has no intention of promoting the licensing objectives, nor following the guidance issued.

“Either conclusion would leave me with absolutely no confidence that the licensing objectives will be met should this application be granted.”

The panel heard that police had little success in contacting the applicant to discuss the licence – one phone call ended when the applicant hung up after officers identified themselves as police.

Councillor Aneela Ahmed (Lab, City) spoke on behalf of residents of neighbouring Baptist Court who had objected . She said the business was already having a “detrimental impact” on residents’ lives, and a 4am licence would make things even worse.

She said punters would often cause a commotion outside the venue in the early hours, and this would include drunken arguing.

Members of the panel voted to refuse the licencing application.

Chris Young, Local Democracy Reporting Service