'Why did I have to fight for later opening hours?' asks Hanley takeaway owner
KEBAB shop owner Shazad Yaqoob has won a seven-month battle to open his city centre business into the early hours of the morning.
But the 33-year-old claims Stoke-on-Trent City Council's initial refusal to grant his application has caused undue stress and cost him money.
This week the authority gave permission for Trinity Street-based Chilli Jacks to open until 3.30am.
The move represents a U-turn by the authority after councillors previously denied the businessman, who also owns a takeaway in Meir, permission to even open the takeaway after 11pm.
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Mr Yaqoob, of Dresden, said: "This has caused me a lot of stress but I am very relieved that I finally have permission.
"The police raised objections against the later opening because they were worried about people queuing outside the shop and getting into fights.
"But my shop is three times as big as the other ones in Hanley so queuing is never a problem.
"If anything drinkers having somewhere else to go after a night out will cut down on queues in other places."
The businessman initially applied for a premises licence to open until 5am back in June.
The application came after he signed a 15-year lease for the outlet before spending £40,000 refurbishing it.
After the council's refusal he took the case to Stafford Magistrates Court who overturned the ruling and confirmed the could open until 2am.
A council hearing had been scheduled for earlier this month to consider a new application to open until 3.30am.
However that was adjourned after Mr Yaqoob raised concerns that the authority was using the same legal adviser who had heard his previous applications.
This week the authority approved the proposals.
Mr Yaqoob said: "It will be a good thing for Hanley because drinking and takeaways go hand in hand.
"I'm not disappointed that I can't open until 5am because I don't want anti-social behaviour in the shop any more than the police do.
"But I've been struggling to turn a profit on the shop since I opened it in October.
"At the end of the day it is my living. Hopefully things will start to pick up for me now."
Takeaway customer, Craig Edwards, from Fenton, said he thought the new opening times would not cause a problem in the city centre.
The 35-year-old said: "I was surprised that the council wouldn't allow Shazad to open until 3.30am in the first place.
"I tend to go to the takeaway if I've been for a night out in Hanley. It's a nice place with fast service and friendly staff.
"It's also very spacious so you're not squashed in when your waiting for your food. All the other takeaways in the area seem to open until late so I can't see it causing any more trouble."
The takeaway will open seven-days-a-week from 5pm.