A restaurant, popular with celebrity TV stars and Premier League footballers, has been stripped of its licences by Redbridge Council for not complying with licensing conditions.
Melin Chigwell in Woodford Bridge was also found to have continually ignored COVID-19 regulations and guidelines, putting its patrons’ and staff members’ safety at risk.
Under the management and control of Ali Melin, the East London restaurant had its premises licence for serving alcohol and late opening revoked by the council’s Licensing Committee earlier this week.
Laid out over three floors, the venue consists of a restaurant and a live music area with a dance floor.
The committee was presented with a considerable body of written material and video images from police body cameras and social media.
“Mr Melin has consistently shown a flagrant and arrogant disregard for his patron’s safety and the wider community’s health. Redbridge has one of the country’s highest infection rates, so it is truly shocking that a local business was willing to jeopardise people’s health and safety purely for financial gain”
During the hearing, the full extent of Mr Melin’s refusal to adhere to COVID-19 regulations and guidance was laid bare to the Licensing Committee.
COVID-19 restrictions at the time limited all hospitality businesses to table service restaurants only. Patrons and staff were required to wear face coverings unless seated to eat and drink. Operating as a bar, dancing, and loud DJ music were (and currently remain) prohibited to protect the public.
Melin Chigwell owner Ali Melin and guest celebrating her birthday at the restaurant during the pandemic, no mask or social distancing in place
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Mr Melin’s establishment consistently ignored the regulations, with evidence of breaches presented for periods from July to November 2020. Among the many offences committed at the venue were:
- The premises were operating as a dance venue on 5 July, 8 August, 28 August, 30 August, and 3 November 2020, in breach of the coronavirus Regulations, with evidence of these breaches posted on social media.
- Repeatedly failing to implement any social distancing measures or insist on mask-wearing,
- On 28 August 2020, far exceeding the maximum number of people permitted under the risk assessment.
- On 30 August 2020 Redbridge officers attended the premises again. They observed disco lights and could hear loud bass music. They were kept waiting outside for 7 minutes during which time the music was turned off.
- Failing to provide CCTV footage of the venue when requested by the police, which is a condition of the premises licence.
One of the most recent offences took place on Tuesday, 3 November, when police attended the premises, following a complaint from residents that a large event was taking place. When they arrived, they found the doors locked and the windows blacked out.
Officers could see through a gap that people inside were not wearing face coverings while standing at the bar, and there were two DJs.
Officers identified the voice of Mr. Melin on the clip shouting, “F**k the lockdown!”
The police were denied entry into the building, and the access and fire doors remained locked for 10 minutes. This amounted to an obstruction of officers exercising their duties under the Licensing Act 2003 and Coronavirus Regulations, thereby putting both the patron and staff safety at risk.
Mr Melin told officers, “It’s the last night tonight anyway, so that’s it; we are shut.”
Later, Mr Melin posted a clip on Instagram showing 70-100 people inside with approximately 50 people dancing and a DJ playing loud music. Officers identified the voice of Mr. Melin on the clip shouting, “F**k the lockdown!”
Commenting on the revocation of Melin Chigwell’s licence, the Leader of Redbridge Council, Cllr Jas Athwal, said:
“This should send out a strong message to those who think they can flout licensing conditions and COVID guidelines.
“We have many licensed premises in the borough, the large majority of which have worked hard to follow the pandemic guidelines and keep local people safe.
“And then we have Mr Melin, who has consistently shown a flagrant and arrogant disregard for his patron’s safety and the wider community’s health. Redbridge has one of the country’s highest infection rates, so it is truly shocking that a local business was willing to jeopardise people’s health and safety purely for financial gain.
“When you consider the sheer number of incidents that took place in a relatively short period, it’s no wonder the committee reached the decision they did. Mr Melin only has himself to blame for being in this position.”
Redbridge Council’s Licensing Sub-Committee noted that both the police and officers from Redbridge council tried extensively to ensure Mr Melin complied with Coronavirus Regulations and guidance during the pandemic.
Initially by informal means and later, when the rules continued to be flouted, by taking the formal action of issuing a Prohibition Notice, Notices of Intent, and two Individual Premises Directions.
“We find that Mr Ali [Melin] has no intention to operate the premises in a lawful manner”
The application to strip Melin Chigwell of its alcohol and late opening licence was made by the Metropolitan Police. In accordance with section 51 of the Licensing Act 2003, the police application was to review the premises licence for Melin Enterprises Ltd, 692-694 Chigwell Road, Woodford Green, IG8 8AL.
The police said this revocation was made on the grounds of the prevention of crime and disorder, public nuisance, and public safety. Counsel Charles Holland appeared on behalf of the police, as did PC Mick Neal.
The police application was supported by London Borough of Redbridge licensing enforcement, represented at the hearing by John Conaghan and ward councillor Paul Canal on behalf of several residents.
The Licensing Sub-Committee, chaired by Councillor N. Chaudhry, upheld the police’s application to revoke Melin’s licence. As part of its decision, the committee said:
“We find that Mr Ali [Melin] has no intention to operate the premises in a lawful manner. His failure to comply with the existing licensing conditions or pay any heed to previous regulatory intervention leaves us with no option but to revoke the licence.”
Ali Melin first hit notoriety last September when a recording of him threatening his staff over the distribution of tips was made public.
He was not present at the hearing on Tuesday, 19 January. His lawyer unsuccessfully tried to have the hearing adjourned.
Mr Melin has made a post on his Instagram account that his next venture will be Melin Dubai.
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