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City Wall boss Sanjay Raval told to remove canopy put up during lockdown at Rochester bar

A bar owner who helped out with food parcels during lockdown believes he has been "hung out to dry" over a council order to remove an outside canopy he put up to claw back trade.

Sanjay Raval, who runs the City Wall Wine Bar in Rochester High Street, was allowed the temporary construction as part of relaxed restrictions during the pandemic to pick up on lost business and provide a service to customers who were allowed to drink outdoors.

Disgruntled Sanjay Raval must remove canopy
Disgruntled Sanjay Raval must remove canopy

But, still recovering from a dramatic drop of earnings, the 54-year-old has now been told he's got to take it down.

He said: "I paid £16,000 to put it up and a further £4,000 to fight the retrospective planning application.

"All I want to do is talk to somebody to reach a compromise. I feel like I'm in no-man's land. I feel very hung out to dry."

Mr Raval, who has run the bar for 22 years, said if an enforcement notice is issued to dismantle the marquee, he would struggle to keep his business open.

In a letter to council officers and councillors, he writes: "How can I even attempt to resolve this in a way that complies with your policies and keeps my business afloat and my staff employed?

Bar owner Sanjay Raval
Bar owner Sanjay Raval

"All I want to do is find another acceptable option.

"There has been no compromise and no advice on how to rectify this as a partnership and long-standing business of the local Rochester community."

Earlier this year the businessman felt he was the victim of a vendetta after a noise complaint was withdrawn.

The dad-of-one paid an acoustic expert £3,000 to prove his live music and DJ sets were operating within the rules after an unnamed resident raised concerns.

It's the second time he has been slapped with a noise nuisance order which has cost him thousands of pounds in legal costs and hiring specialist advisors.

At the height of his career, he ran a total of 27 pubs and bars, predominantly in Medway, and had 362 staff on the payroll.

Sanjay Raval outside City Wall Wine Bar
Sanjay Raval outside City Wall Wine Bar

He is a member of the Safer Medway Partnership which sets out to combat crime and anti social behaviour and also an active member of the Licensed Victuallers' Association.

Medway Council was approached for comment

The authority has indicated it will be serving an enforcement notice to the City Wall Wine Bar, asking for the structure to be removed. He will have 28 days to appeal this decision.

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