Home Barking, Dagenham, & Surrounding Areas “We don’t want f****** black people” – council accused of ‘inciting’ a campaign of racism

“We don’t want f****** black people” – council accused of ‘inciting’ a campaign of racism

by
Alaba Ibikunie Ologun

A restaurant owner seeking a drink licence accused council members of “inciting” a campaign against his business that resulted in racial slurs and a death threat.

Yesterday, a Havering Council licencing tribunal convened to determine whether Alaba Ibikunie Ologun’s African restaurant in Elmer Gardens, Rainham, which opened on March 18, should be permitted to serve alcohol until 11 p.m.

Since Mr Ologun’s application for a licence on March 28, objections have warned of antisocial behaviour, parking and littering issues in the “very residential” neighbourhood.

However, the restaurant owner asserts that his family and business have been subjected to discriminatory insults as a result of an orchestrated campaign of opposition.

Natasha Summers, councillor for the South Hornchurch constituency, reported at the meeting that she had received more than 44 letters from concerned neighbours about noise impacting the elderly and children.

She also questioned Mr Ologun’s claim that he was unaware he needed a licence, given that he had worked in banks and restaurants.

Graham Williamson, a fellow ward councillor, added that the council rejected a planning application in 2004 due to disturbance, and the business was only permitted to operate from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm after an appeal.

On April 24, Mr. Ologun filed an official complaint against Cllr Williamson with Havering Council, alleging racial discrimination and inciting violence and harassment against him, his family, and his business on Facebook.

He claimed that Cllr Williamson had incorrectly referred to his restaurant as a community centre in a Facebook post, advising locals to object and suggesting the grounds they should use.

He claimed to have a screenshot of Cllr Williamson telling residents that the most effective way to object would be to make allegations of antisocial behaviour and to “hide” while taking photographic evidence.

And after Cllr Williamson and Cllr Summers distributed a leaflet to neighbours warning that it was their “last chance” to object, he received numerous racist comments and messages, he said.

One person posted online that their grandmother would be “turning in their grave,” and Mr. Ologun claimed that other residents discussed stripping him of his mortgage, despite the fact that he did not have one.

He claimed he received a “appalling” phone call from a private number that “threatened his life” and claimed to know his address and his children’s school.

“In the background, another woman could be heard yelling, ‘We don’t want f***ing black people!'”

Mr. Ologun stated that he reported the incident to the Romford police station, but that he now lives in fear and his family has “gone into hiding.”

He stated, “It’s shocking to learn that the councilmember I voted for has now turned against me and incited violence against me and my family. As a result, I’ve been feeling extremely unsafe.” It’s extremely, extremely depressing.”

Natasha Summers, a councilwoman, has denied the allegations and stated that she is “very hurt and upset” about being labelled racist.

She stated, “Graham Williamson, whom you label a racist, has a black wife. His kids are mixed race, but this is in no way a racial issue.”

She stated that Mr. Ologun never visited the councillors, and had he done so, they could have communicated with him and the residents.

Several residents spoke at the meeting, with one claiming that the restaurant operated unlawfully past 11 p.m. “most nights,” with people congregating and conversing outside and parked cars potentially obstructing access for emergency vehicles.

Another person questioned why the restaurant’s blinds were frequently closed when diners were present. According to some, the establishment served whisky and beer without a licence.

One individual stated that more than six homes have been sold on the street since the restaurant opened “because of what it will be like.” He added, “I will also attend if this is licenced.”

Cllr Summers implored the council to seek legal advice regarding the points listed on the leaflets and the fact that both of Mr. Ologun’s kitchens were located in the section that closes at 3 p.m. She inquired, “I would like to know how he serves cuisine after 3 p.m.

“And is it a restaurant or a community centre? Numerous individuals have the query”.

Mr. Ologun stated that the two sections of his property had distinct operating hours, with one closing after 3 p.m.

He suggested implementing measures such as installing CCTV, serving alcohol only to people seated at a table, requiring photo identification prior to serving alcohol, and playing music only at ‘background’ levels.

He insisted that he complied with the law and stated that neither the fire brigade nor the police had any objections to his application.

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Cllr Jane Keane, who presided over the meeting, stated that a decision will be made on the application within five business days.

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