Work and Money
Brick Lane restaurants under threat
By Angela Saini
Rising rents and staff shortages are forcing some of Brick Lane's famous Bangladeshi curry houses out of business
Fears heave been raised that Brick Lane's booming curry house industry is under threat from steep rent increases and a shortage of skilled staff.
At the Bangladesh Caterers' Association’s annual dinner in Central London, President Bajloor Rashid, said: "Brick Lane is at the heart of the Bangladeshi curry industry in Britain.
"In the last four years rent has been doubled and rates are at least 60 per cent up. Restaurants are not surviving." He claims that 15 restaurants in Bangla Town have already been forced to close.
The Bangladesh Caterers' Association represents 12,000 curry houses across Britain, claiming to contribute £3.5 billion to the UK economy every year.
Owner of Café Naz, Muquim Ahmed, won the Bangladesh Caterers' Association caterer of the year award for the Greater London region. But he told BBC London that his Café Naz Express restaurant on Brick Lane may have to close within the next year because rent increases have been too high.
Muquim Ahmed, owner of Cafe Naz
"A lot of people in Brick Lane will have to close down," he told BBC London,
"Warren Street at one time, thirty years ago, was very famous for Indian restaurants. Then Warren Street went down, so I think now is the time for Brick Lane."
Catering staff shortages
A number of Bangladesh Caterers' Association members complained that current immigration rules are not allowing enough skilled catering staff from Bangladesh to get visas to work in British curry houses.
A new points-based immigration, due to start in 2008, may make the problem worse because it places greater limits on immigration from outside the EU.
Secretary General of the Bangladesh Caterers Association, Pasha Khandaker, called on the government to introduce a "curry house immigration scheme" to allow more workers to migrate from Bangladesh.
Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, MP Hillary Benn, told attendees at the annual dinner: "I have been listening and I think the government needs to take notice about the legislative concerns of the BCA."
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last updated: 27/12/2007 at 18:25