A NEW premises licence application for a curry house in Reading has been slammed by police as a ‘façade’.

Miah’s Garden of Gulab, on Wokingham Road, is one of a trio of Berkshire restaurants that had their booze licences revoked last year after 12 illegal workers were found by Home Office enforcement.

Berkshire Restaurant Ltd (BRL), a company created in late December 2018, has applied for a new licence at all three restaurants, with hearings taking place this month.

Thames Valley Police (TVP) and Reading Borough Council (RBC) claim the company has connections with the current Miah’s owner.

TVP allege that there are ‘direct links’ between BRL director Mr Southern and the current licence holder of Miah’s Restaurant, Jamshed Miah, while the council has found an additional connection.

Simon Wheeler, TVP officer, said: “There is a likely potential that the new applicant will either maintain business links with the current owners and management of the business, or will have a direct involvement on their behalf, i.e. acting as a ‘front’ for the business.”

Correspondence sent by BRL’s lawyers states that the application has been submitted under a ‘new operator’ to the previous licence operator at Miah’s.

TVP has taken issue with this detail because they believe it suggests a ‘total separation’ from the previous licence holders.

The authority claims the application has been made by someone with ‘direct links to the Miah family and its associates and business partners’ to get around the revoked alcohol licence.

The address of BRL is 8 Shinfield Rise, RG2 8EA, but checks made by the police indicate Mr Southern is not registered at this address, and instead five others were registered here, four of which have the surname ‘Islam’.

One is Abadul Islam, who is linked to the owners of Miah’s Garden of Gulab through a report of theft crime at 8 Shinfield Rise in September 2010.

The incident was reported by Mr Miah, who gave the Miah’s Spencers Wood restaurant in Wokingham as his address, while Abadul Islam was the aggrieved and gave the Reading restaurant as his address in the report.

Thames Valley Police suggest this evidence ‘provides a direct link’ between the Shinfield Rise address and both Mr Jamshed Miah and Mr Abadul Islam.

Mr Wheeler said the force is worried about a continuation of ‘poor practice’ after Miah’s restaurants were found to have committed ‘serious immigration offences’ last year.

The council has been urged by the police to carry out ‘extreme scrutiny’ when considering the new application in order to determine whether it is ‘new’ or a ‘rebranded application’.

Additionally, Reading Borough Council (RBC) claim to have found businesss links between Mr Southern’s brother – Stuart Southern – and Mr Miah that stretch back 10 years.

Peter Narancic said the applicant would likely have no day to day control of the business and is ‘in effect’ applying on behalf of Mr Miah.

He added: “Mr Jamshed has made previous attempts to retain this premises at all costs.”

The application has also received objections from the council as the hours of licence requested fall foul of the premises’ agreed planning permission.

RBC revoked Garden of Gulab’s licence in November 2018 after five illegal workers were found on the premises in May 2018.

Mr Miah also lost his licence to sell alcohol at Miah’s Spencers Wood and Miah’s of Pangbourne last year.

Councillors will decide whether to grant a new licence to Berkshire Restaurant Ltd for Miah’s Garden of Gulab on Tuesday, March 19, with hearings also taking place at West Berks and Wokingham this month.

The decisions were appealed by the applicant to the Magistrates’ Court which means the licences are currently in force.

Further applications to transfer the licences to his son at all three restaurants were refused last year, which Mr Miah has also appealed.