A TAKEAWAY van that has received a slew of poor hygiene, reported drug offences, and immigration complaints is at risk of being shut down.

BBQ King has operated on Kings Street in Winnersh since 2019, but has been in the wider Wokingham area for the past 30 years.

A Licensing and Appeals (hearing) Sub-Committee met on Tuesday, July 9 to discuss the string of allegations, which date back to 2020, with takeaway manager Mr Muammer Kenan Mursaloglu.

In March 2024, Thames Valley Police visited the food vendor on suspicion of drug offences. While no drugs were found, one male employee was arrested for an immigration offence, after officers discovered he had been overstaying his welcome in the UK.

The owner emphasised that he ceased employment of the man, and that he would do proper work checks in the future.

Before this, the business had been given a food hygiene rating of one – the lowest you can receive – after employees failed to demonstrate food safety management procedures in October 2023. On a follow up inspection, it was found that a fridge being used to store raw meat was kept at 15 degrees, above the maximum 8 degrees, and there was no hot water supply for handwashing.

Complaints were also made to the council over the van not being moved outside of operating hours. While legally a street vendor must remove the van after the close of trading each day, Mr Mursaloglu’s van was being left to at the pitch overnight. The owner was not opening at the correct licenced times and was often found to be closed in the mornings upon random inspection.

A resident further complained about waste management, alleging that BBQ King was tipping used cooking oil on grass, which was attracting rats.

Wokingham Borough Council officers recommended that based on these separate and ‘historical’ ongoing issues, BBQ King’s licence should be revoked. A representative said this was due to the ‘disproportionate amount of council time wasted’, and ‘owing to the lack of willingness to improve demonstrated by BBQ King’.

The council officer said: “What has come across in this hearing in terms of submissions is there appears to be almost an attitude or expectation of you need to be told, you need to be managed, you need to be shown how there are issues.”

He added that himself and others would ‘not be satisfied’ that compliance will come, and said: “For me, it will be an act, it will be a show, it will be smoking mirrors.”

Mr Mursaloglu, who was present at the hearing, urged the council to let him stay open. He said many of the issues had come up while he was away having an operation in Turkey, for six months.

He warned that it would make him and his staff unemployed, which would negatively impact his family. His legal representative added: “He’s 58, 59? I mean, where’s he going to start training? Where’s he going to do a career change at this point?”

A final decision will be made by the Wokingham Borough Council licencing and appeals sub-committee in five working days.