Hastings Indian takeaway fined for employing illegal workers facing licensing review

Ocean Spice, Hastings. SUS-160119-160404001
Ocean Spice, Hastings. SUS-160119-160404001

A Hastings restaurant fined for employing illegal workers is set to have its licence reviewed by councillors this week, by Huw Oxburgh, local democracy reporter.

On Friday (January 24), a panel of Hastings Borough Council’s licensing committee is to hold a hearing to review the licence of the Ocean Spice restaurant at 43 White Rock, Hastings.

The hearing comes at the request of the HM Immigration, in light of the restaurant being fined at least £75,000 for breaches of employment law since October 2018.

In its submission to the council, a spokesman for the Home Office department said: “Immigration Enforcement contend that despite repeated interventions from ourselves offences have been repeatedly committed which cannot be allowed to continue. 

“Having considered the alternatives, it is requested that the licensing committee consider the revocation of this premises licence.

“This will send a strong message that the local authority are proactively combating the exploitation of workers, by ensuring employers take seriously their responsibilities in relation to the legislation and to the people within their employ.”

In its application, HM Immigration argues the licence should be revoked under the licensing objective for “prevention of crime and disorder”.  This request is also supported by Sussex Police, council papers show.

According to the application, immigration officers visited the premises three times between October 2018 and November 2019. 

As a result of employment breaches found during the first two visits, the Home Office issued the business with fines totalling £75,000.

A further set of alleged breaches, with a potential cost of up to £60,000 in fines, were still under investigation when the licensing review request was submitted in November last year.

As of November, none of the civil penalties had been paid by or appealed in the courts, the HM Immigration Service submission said.

The fines were issued as the restaurant had been employing people with no right to work in the UK, the submission said.

The submission also said sleeping areas for multiple people had also been found at the premises.

Currently the restaurant is licensed for late night refreshments, sale of alcohol, and performance of live and recorded music, up until 2am.

Report by Huw Oxburgh, local democracy reporter