Plans to re-open a takeaway hut selling kebabs in central Reading have gone cold.

Kamal Saleem applied for a licence to run Central Kebabs at the vacant kiosk opposite St Mary’s Church but has now withdrawn the application.

The hut is on a small paved island on St Mary’s Butts opposite the church and already has a licence, but the church has refused to allow the current licence holder to operate on the premises since 2018.

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Thames Valley Police (TVP) and Reading Borough Council (RBC) officers had raised concerns over the potential impact on public safety in the town centre if the hot food hut was allowed to re-open.

They said the applicant had not fully addressed the ‘Cumulative Impact Policy’.

The kiosk is within the council’s ‘Cumulative Impact Area’ which exists to address the stress caused by a high concentration of late night licensed premises in the town centre.

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TVP licensing officer Declan Smyth said: “There has been a stabbing and a number of major instances of disorder in the immediate vicinity of the proposed licence.

“It is felt that if this application is granted it will likely lead to the licensing objectives being undermined with specific regard to prevention crime and disorder, public safety and prevention of public nuisance.”

RBC licensing officer Robert Smalley agreed with TVP.

He said: “Since this licence has been dormant the levels of crime have remained very high in this area and the likely effect of granting this licence will only compound this issue.”

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The hut currently has a premises licence held by Murat Emekdar, who ran the kiosk for 20 years before having his tenancy agreement rescinded by the church authority – Reading Minster of St Mary the Virgin – in 2018.

Mr Emekdar has refused to transfer the licence to anyone else and continues to pay the annual fee despite not being able to operate from the hut.

He has asked for the council to take the premises back from the church – who he claims was given the hut more than 100 years ago – and allow him to trade.

The new applicant Mr Saleem had applied to trade at the hut at the same hours as Mr Emekdar previously operated, offering ‘late night refreshment’ until:

  • 3.30am on Saturdays
  • 3am on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays
  • 2.30am on Tuesdays
  • 2am on Sundays

RBC’s Licensing Applications committee will no longer hear the application on Thursday (January 30), but there is still another licence hearing taking place that morning, with Matchbox’s licence under threat.

The venue is one of three clubs which face potentially losing their licences this week after a serious of fights outside Reading nightclubs.