A hard-working cafe owner has been ordered to tear down an extractor fan–because the smell of her frying bacon ‘offends’ Muslims.
Planning bosses acted against Beverley Akciecek, 49, after being told her next-door neighbour’s Muslim friends had felt ‘physically sick’ due to the ‘foul odour’.
Councillors at Stockport Council in Greater Manchester say the smell from the fan is ‘unacceptable on the grounds of residential amenity’.
The fan has been in Beverley’s Snack Shack takeaway in the Shaw Heath area of the town for the past three years.
Mrs Akciecek and her husband Cetin, 50,–himself a Turkish Muslim–work more than 50 hours a week buying, preparing and cooking hot and cold sandwiches and hot-pots for their customers.
Today mother-of-seven Mrs Akciecek said she plans to appeal against the decision.
She said: ‘I just think it’s crazy. Cetin’s friends actually visit the shop, they’re regular visitors, they’re Muslim people, they come in a couple of times a week.
‘I have Muslim people come in for cheese toasties. Cetin cooks the food himself, he cooks the bacon.
‘When we go to a cafe my husband wouldn’t be offended by the smell of bacon. His friends are not offended by it, we have three visitors who come here for a sandwich, friends of my husband, and the smell doesn’t offend them at all.
‘My brother-in-law doesn’t flinch if he comes and we’ve just taken out three trays of bacon.
‘I’m going to find a local councillor. I’m waiting for the letter so I can appeal.’
The couple took over the take-away in 2007 from the previous owner and replaced the existing extractor fan, which had been there for six years, with a new modern one.
They claim they received no complaints about the cafe which is open from 7.30am-2.30pm six days a week, until around 18 months ago when they received a letter from environmental services to say their neighbour Graham Webb-Lee had complained about the smell.
Mrs Akciecek said: ‘We’ve never had a problem about the smell because everything is pre-cooked. We cook it in the oven so there’s no foul smell.
‘It’s pre-cooked so the smell isn’t as strong when we’re frying it off. It’s like living next to someone who’s cooking a Sunday breakfast but it’s not constant it’s just in the morning.
‘It’s been a sandwich shop for about eight years, cooking exactly the same stuff. The lady before me did double because they were actually building new houses across the road so she was really busy. She was here from 6am-4pm because they were so busy.
‘They were there before me but they were also there when the lady who owns the business was here and she was doing double what we are. She had five staff, you can imagine how bust that shop was and they never complained at all.’
They say that the council’s environmental services had been out to inspect their property after their neighbour complained about a foul odour last year, but they ruled that the smell was not causing a problem.
Mrs Akciecek said: ‘Environmental services said everything is ok. They kept coming back and guaging it and said there was no problem and because they didn’t take any action (the neighbours) complained again.’
The couple had never applied for planning permission as they had simply replaced an existing extractor fan with one of the same size and in the same position, but, following further complaints from their neighbour, they were informed by the council they would have to apply retrospectively as an objection had been raised.
They applied for planning permission in May this year, but the application was refused at a meeting of Stockport Area Committee on October 14.
Mr Webb-Lee objected to the aplication–complaining that his Muslim friends refused to visit him becase they ‘can’t stand the smell of bacon’.
Mrs Akciecek, who also attended the meeting, said: ‘He said he had a daughter with an eating disorder, the Muslim friends, and the bad smell all the time is making his clothes smell.
‘The councillors agreed with him without even asking me what I thought. It was as if they didn’t even realise I was there.
‘This cafe is our only source of income. There are only two of us working, we haven’t got any staff anymore. We work seven hours in the shop and my husband goes to the cash and carry and has all the prep work to do. We’re working long hours. He does about 50 hours a week easy and I’m working about the same and we work Saturdays.
‘The shop will be a lot harder work. It will be a good hour a day washing the walls down, I will not work anywhere with the grease falling down the walls. We can’t move it anywhere.
‘I’m not going to accept it and we’re going to fight it.’
Mr Webb-Lee said: ‘The vent is 12 inches from my front door. Every morning the smell of bacon comes through and makes me physically sick.
‘I have a lot of Muslim friends. They refuse to visit me anymore because they can’t stand the smell of bacon.’
A spokesman for Stockport Council said: ‘The retrospective application was rejected on the grounds of residential amenity, as the committee felt the odours given off from the vent were unacceptable for neighbouring residents.
‘We will ensure that the cafe complies with this decision and removes the extractor fan.’