Hooliganism fear affects business

PUBLISHED: 11:30 29 June 2006 | UPDATED: 11:50 04 May 2010

CLOSING TIME: Dave Dawkins will lock up his business if Portugal are winning at half-time to avoid possible trouble.

CLOSING TIME: Dave Dawkins will lock up his business if Portugal are winning at half-time to avoid possible trouble.

BUSINESSMAN Dave Dawkins is closing his Soham restaurant on Saturday night for fear of hooligan retaliation if Portugal beats England in the World Cup. He claims that if the home-side is losing at half-time he will board up the front of Poppies Bistro in

BUSINESSMAN Dave Dawkins is closing his Soham restaurant on Saturday night for fear of hooligan retaliation if Portugal beats England in the World Cup.

He claims that if the home-side is losing at half-time he will board up the front of Poppies Bistro in Churchgate Street to prevent bricks being thrown through the windows.

Mr Dawkins fears reprisals because he is in business with Portuguese-born, Marco Prates, and claims he has been the target of racists since they teamed up to open Marco's Cafe at the back of the bistro.

Mr Prates also claims he and the rest of the Portuguese community are so afraid of racist attacks that they are staying behind locked doors to support their football team.

The pair have already been forced to close the cafe after a neighbour objected to their licensing application on the grounds of excess noise and potential traffic problems.

They fear the shutdown could last seven weeks, leading to a £60,000 loss, while East Cambridgeshire District Council makes its decision on the licence which has been supported by a 1,000 signature petition to the council in support of the new cafe.

Now the pair fear a racist backlash on Saturday if England should lose and Mr Dawkins claims the only way to avoid trouble is to close Poppies for the evening.

The businessmen fear a repeat of the Euro 2004 trouble when 300 English fans gathered outside a Portuguese-run pub in Thetford, Norfolk throwing stones and kicking down the door after the home-side was knocked out on penalties.

Dave said: "Only a few days ago I had a man walk past my restaurant sign, shout an obscenity about the Portuguese and spit at the sign. A customer is going out with a Portuguese lady and friends refuse to speak to him.

"We had a group of people in the restaurant complaining that the Portuguese were taking our jobs - but none of them had a job. Many people are blinkered in this town.

"What are we doing with this attitude in a modern, cosmopolitan town like Soham?"

Mr Prates is calling on the Portuguese Embassy to investigate claims that some Soham residents are reluctant to accept the town's Portuguese residents.

Ely Police South Neighbourhood Beat Sergeant Nigel Leadbeater said: "We have put on extra patrols throughout the World Cup and extra police on the streets for reassurance. We will robustly tackle disturbance and any rise in drunkenness, hooliganism, disorder and public order offences. When England are playing we put on more police officers and rest days are cancelled."

East Cambridgeshire District Council director of environmental health, Stephen Clements, said of the cafe's licence application: "When we receive an objection from someone regarding the granting of a licence, which we are unable to resolve between the two parties, we are obliged to put the application to the licensing committee within 20 working days.

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