An Indian restaurant has been taken to court because of 'cooking smells' emanating from its kitchen.
Middlesbrough Council fined Kushi Buffet owners Shabana and Mohammed Khushi after the establishment sent aromas of biryanis and bhajis filtering through the area.
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According to the local authority, the Linthorpe restaurant was lacking a 'sufficient filtration system'. A handful of locals had been complaining about the smells, which led to the council's decision.
Kushi, which serves Punjabi dishes and is based in the Red Rose pub, is set in a built-up residential area alongside other businesses.
Shabana and Mohammed - of previous good character - were yesterday fined £258 each, ordered to pay £500 costs each, and a £30 victim surcharge, The Gazette reports.
But in letters written to the presiding judge, fellow businesses and councillors supported the restaurant. They said that they've never had a problem with curry smells on the road.
One missive, from a charity, praised the owners for providing items for a local food bank. But the letters didn't stop the fine.
District Judge Kristina Harrison heard from a council prosecutor that some residents had complained that the smell of 'spicy food' from the restaurant's kitchen filtered in through their windows. They described the fragrant smells as overpowering.
It was alleged that the smells were so strong, it left residents needing to wash their clothes.
Defence solicitor Neil Douglas said that because the business had in 2015 moved into a former pub building, no variation of planning permission was needed. The owners didn't know they needed to upgrade their filtration system.
A company which specialises in fitting out Asian restaurants installed the restaurant's kitchen in 2015. The pair have since upgraded their equipment, but face another £3,500 to £4,500 bill to complete the work.
Neil said: "The irony is, the system they will install will be more powerful than what you would find in a town centre, because it's a residential area."
After the court hearing, Shabana, 42, said: "We are relieved that it's all over, but we feel let down by the council.
"When we took over the building, we spoke to them a number of times and asked for advice. If we'd been told, we'd have sorted the issue out before we opened.
"We've tried to be a good neighbour but we feel we've been targeted by a small minority of people. Others have said they can't smell anything until they're inside the restaurant.
"But other businesses in the area have been very supportive, as have our fantastic customers.
Mohammed, 46, said: "It has been very stressful. We have had this hanging over us, and we will also have the fine hanging over us and when you start a business, you're trying everything you can to be a success."
The couple admitted to failing to comply with an abatement notice - which aimed to stop "cooking odours being emitted by the extraction system at said premises, in order to prevent nuisance being caused to neighbouring occupiers" - between March and September last year.