Mehdi’s, the popular High Street kebab van, has been allowed to continue operating by Oxford City Council despite noise complaints made by Oriel College.
A council licensing committee met last Tuesday to decide whether Mr Mehdi Karrouchi’s licence would be renewed.
According to an Oxford City Council spokesperson, the renewal of Mr Mehdi Karrouchi’s licence has been granted. However, the licence, which was due to expire on March 31st, is being renewed conditionally.
The licensing authorities have said that by April 1st Mr Karrouchi must replace the current generator with a “quiet” one, leave his spot no later than half an hour after the end of his shift, and put up a sign reminding customers to be respectful of local residents.
The decision to renew Mr Karrouchi’s licence was under review after a complaint was made by Oriel College earlier in February.
The college said that the noise from the van caused “great stress” to student residents whose accommodation looks out on to the High Street.
In a letter to Oxford City Council, Dickie Bird, the Oriel lodge team leader, complained that “more often than not” the kebab van parked away from its allocated spot near Scrivens Opticians. Instead, according to Mr Bird, Mehdi’s van chose to park directly outside the gates to Brasenose. The noise from late-night customers and the van’s generator could then be heard inside Oriel students’ rooms.
Mr Bird added that Oriel College did not want to affect the trading of the van, but did “want the owner to abide by the rules of his licence and not just ignore them.”
One of the van’s operators, Mr Hussain, defended his position by saying that other cars are often parked in Mehdi’s allocated trading spot.
In response to the complaints made by Oriel College, two licensing officials paid a surprise visit to Mehdi’s on February 8th at 11pm. A council report stated that the officers found Mr Karrouchi to be in breach of a number of conditions of his licence. The two men serving behind the van were not registered employees and the licence was not on show nor could it be provided.
Local authorities then met with Mr Karrouchi before the Council Licensing Sub Committee meeting on March 20th to try and resolve matters.
Many students feel strongly about the importance of kebab vans in Oxford. Sam Ereira, a first year from Oriel College commented, “Each van plays an integral role in maintaining Oxford’s uniqueness.”
He added, “Without kebabs, there is no humanity.”
Ereira also expressed his view that if Mehdi’s lost its licence it was only fair “that Oriel accept the blame and have its college status removed so Mehdi can occupy it and turn it into the largest kebab shop in town.”
Mr Mehdi Karrouchi was unavailable for comment at the time of going to press.