Electricity danger at Cheeky Chicken

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People’s safety was put at risk when an electricity meter at a town centre take-away was meddled with, a licensing hearing was told.

Health and safety inspectors found evidence of tampering in order to avoid paying for electricity when they visited the Cheeky Chicken on The Strand.

Seals had been changed and a hole had been drilled into the side of the meter to use wire to stop it going round, a council licensing panel heard.

The panel revoked the late-night licence which means the business can no longer open between 11pm and 5am.

Gareth Shaw, health and safety manager at Blackpool Council, said: “During the inspection of these premises, it came to light the meter had been tampered with to abstract electricity.

“Some of the original seals had been removed and replaced with false seals.

“The wheels of the meter were out of line.”

Mr Shaw added there was evidence a pin-sized hole had been drilled into the side of the meter.

An inspector representing Electricity North West said the actions not only meant electricity was being obtained illegally, but put people in danger.

He said: “Messing about with service provision is dangerous and could lead to an electric shock or a fire. There is also a danger from live parts being exposed.”

Alaa Hammad, who owns the Cheeky Chicken, denied interfering with the meter.

He said: “We have our electrics assessed by an electrician every three to five years in order to get our certificate, and the electrician has not noticed anything.

“I don’t know anything about it.

“When they send me my electricity bill, I just pay it. I don’t know if the meter is going fast or slow.”

The panel, chaired by Coun Christine Wright, decided to revoke the licence on the grounds of public safety.

Mr Hammad has 21 days in which to appeal the decision.

The Cheeky Chicken is the latest of a number of take-aways in Blackpool to have its licence revoked for tampering with its electricity meter.

Blackpool Council enforcement chiefs are working in partnership with Electricity North West to tackle the problems with around 30 businesses believed to be committing electricity theft.

Licensing chiefs yesterday also dealt with number of other venues in the town whose licences had lapsed.

Records were updated for 10 premises.