The owner of a pub-shop conversion has been allowed an alcohol licence after denying any intention of using living space within the building as a House in Multiple Occupancy.
Satnam Singh had applied to West Lindsey District Council for an alcohol licence for the Crooked Billet in Morton.
He told the authority’s licensing committee through solicitor Paul Henocq that he bought the former pub with the intention of converting it into a shop to be run by himself and his daughter-in-law Maundee Kaur.
West Lindsey District Council’s Housing and Enforcement Team however had objected to the application and raised concerns over the owners’ ability to comply with the licensing objective of public safety and suggested he planned to use the upstairs as a HMO.
It followed investigations into reports of “modern day slavery and poor living conditions” regarding building work which had found workers, including non-family members, staying at the property and resulted in an Emergency Prohibition Order stopping work.
They said Mr Singh had also not completed certain requirements until they were raised to him by the authority.
Mr Henocq, from John Gaunt’s Solicitors, said Mr Singh’s family currently travel to and from Sheffield on a daily basis and are planning to live above the shop once building work is completed.
He said the allegations “impinge on Mr Singh’s character,” particularly as no other body – including police – had raised any concerns.
In evidence, he said Mr Singh had previously run another store in the Sheffield area, and before that had been a hackney driver.
“What it doesn’t show is any reviews or any changes to the licence because of the manner in which Mr Singh held it,” he said.
“He has previously had a licence with all these conditions on it and there has not been an issue with that.”
The store itself has been open for several weeks, but without selling alcohol.
The Health and Safety Executive are pursuing a prosecution for breaches to the Emergency Prohibition Order, however, Mr Henocq said this was in relation to a third-party contractor which his client had originally hired but later sacked.
Several building works and food registrations have been checked off by West Lindsey District Council since the warrants.
The licensing committee granted the application.
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