A popular award-winning curry house in Market Rasen may close after it was found to be employing illegal workers.
Police are pushing for West Lindsey District Council to revoke the premises license of The Gate of India in King Street, which would prevent the sale of alcohol.
Restaurant manager Ronald Meah has pledged to fight any revocation of the license, saying if the Gate of India lost its license, it would close.
West Lindsey District Council discusses the fate of the restaurant at a meeting of its Licensing Sub-committee today, Wednesday.
A council report says that on April 24, police, Home Office immigration and HM Revenue and Customs staff visited the restaurant while it was controlled by premises licence holder Sanu Meah.
“On this occasion, 7 Asian males were identified as working at the premises. Subsequent checks identified that one male working as a waiter in front of house and one male working in the kitchen were illegal entrants to the United Kingdom and a third male working in the kitchen had overstayed his permission to remain in the UK.
“All three males were arrested at the premises for the relevant offences under the Immigration Act 1971.”
The report says licensing laws have ‘objectives’ such as the prevention of crime and disorder and public safety.
The force warns employing illegal workers puts such staff at risk of exploitation, who live in the most basic of living conditions. There are also tax and minimum wage issues that also put law abiding competitors at a disadvantage.
The report said: “In this particular case, two of those arrested were living in what could be described as basic and minimalist conditions in a single room provided on the top floor of the premises which contained two beds, a filing cabinet and a washing machine.
“Ablution facilities appeared to be provided by the facilities on the floor below which were obviously there for customers and there did not appear to be any shower or bathing facilities available on site. It is accepted that the basic provisions were available in terms of shelter, heat, toilet facilities and running water although to the absolute minimum required.”
Such workers also placed the public at risk with matters of food preparation and levels of personal hygiene, plus there was also the risk to Britain of the employer “unwittingly” employing criminals or potential terrorists.
“Allowing this premise to continue to operate with the benefit of a premises licence will merely serve to perpetuate the criminal activity and human exploitation already apparent from the findings of this Immigration, HMRC and Police visit,” it said.
Staff at the Gate of India restaurant told the Rasen Mail that Sanu Meah was “taking a week off to relax.”
However, his son and restaurant manager Ronald Meah, said they plan to attend the council meeting and they had “nothing to hide.”
He said that while sorting out a funeral overseas, they needed some staff temporarily and the workers were available and the family-run business was unaware of the seriousness of employing illegal workers. He said the police and councillors know The Gate of India and he was confident it would keep its license.
“If we do lose it, we will fight. If we do lose our license, we will end up closing down...Everybody makes mistakes.”