Boss of shisha bar claims council cost him 'Mo Salah's business' after they shut him down

-Credit: (Image: Liverpool Echo)
-Credit: (Image: Liverpool Echo)

Owners of a Liverpool shisha bar claimed a closure order imposed by the city council cost them Mo Salah’s business.

In May, Liverpool Council successfully obtained a three month closure order against Reem Shisha Bar after the business failed to heed warnings and advice from the local authority’s licensing team. As a result, the venue has been shuttered ever since, with owner Ahmed Ali claiming it was costing £3,000 a day in revenue.

An appeal hearing at Liverpool Crown Court was told Mr Ali had claimed the closure had even cost the business the opportunity to host a party for Liverpool FC forward Mo Salah.

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It is thought that when the city council secured the closure order at Wirral Magistrates Court on May 3, it was the first shisha lounge in the UK to be subject to a closure order in this way. Shisha smoking is covered by the UK smoking ban, meaning it is illegal to smoke the pipes inside cafes and bars.

Those cafes with outdoor smoking shelters need roofs that are at least 50% open so air can circulate. It is understood that despite Mr Ali spending £100,000 on an extension of the premises, the local authority deemed this to not meet the guidance and deemed it to be smoking in an enclosed space, thus in contravention with guidelines and sought to obtain a closure order.

The appeal hearing at Liverpool Crown Court was told how Mr Ali felt the original magistrates who imposed the order - which will expire next month - had erred in judgement. Olivia Cox, on behalf of Liverpool Council, said Mr Ali had claimed he was losing thousands of pounds a day and even the business of Mr Salah.

However both she and Recorder Neil Owen-Casey said there had been no evidence of either the financial loss or Mr Salah or his agent seeking to hold an event at the venue. The court was also told how despite his significant financial investment in the shelter to extend the premises, it did not comply with planning permission.

Ms Cox said how Mr Ali had been invited to enter the premises to obtain his records to prove financial hardship by way of the closure, but rejected the opportunity as it would require a council officer to be present. The court was told how staff were “poorly trained” and Liverpool Council had advised the business in January of this year on how to make improvements, which was not heeded.

Summing up the case, Recorder Owen-Casey said it was Mr Ali’s position that his colleagues in the lower court had not applied the law correctly, leading to a loss of reputation and business, including “notable celebrity clients.” He concluded there had been “no evidence of that.”

In throwing out the appeal against the closure, the judge said Mr Ali’s assertion that the business was compliant “was worth a try” but had been “unsuccessful in this case.” As a result, the venue must remain closed until August 3.

Costs of £4,354.68 were also applied.

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