Plight of restaurant industry in London’s curry capital highlighted..
1,000 guests, including government policymakers, key dignitaries from the UK and mainland
Europe, such as Jonathan Shaw, Keith Simpson and Sadik Khan, and a host of curry
and restaurant aficionados came together to honour the achievements of the UK’s
flourishing Bangladeshi restaurant industry and to acknowledge the challenges they are facing,
at the second annual awards ceremony to be hosted by Bangladesh Caterers’ Association
(BCA) UK Ltd – the umbrella organisation representing approximately
12,000 British-Bangladeshi restaurateurs in the UK.
The BCA Annual Dinner 2007 marked the 47th anniversary of the association’s establishment and is revered as the most prestigious awards ceremony of its kind in the UK, specifically created to reward the very best of Bangladeshi restaurants that play a significant role in contributing to the nation’s economy and wealth. At present, the Bangladeshi restaurant industry employs more than 90,000 people, with an estimated yearly turnover of £3.5 billion and the BCA are at the forefront of representing and organising various activities to promote Bangladeshi cuisine in the UK and Europe.
In his engaging speech at the event, Rt Hon Hillary Benn MP addressed the worrying issue that, despite the fact that the Bangladeshi restaurant industry has become synonymous with London’s burgeoning Brick Lane area and has contributed significantly to generating tourism and income in the area, many of the longstanding curry houses on Brick Lane are being forced to close due to soaring increases in rent and rates, as the area has seen an influx of city and media professionals. He said, “I have been listening to what has been said this evening, and I think the government needs to take notice about the legislative concerns of the BCA".
Lord Karan Bilimoria, Chairman, Cobra Beer, who was presented with an Honorary Award at the BCA Annual Dinner, for his continued support of the Bangladeshi restaurant industry, elaborated on this by saying, “In the past four years, rents have doubled and rates have increased by 50 to 70 per cent on Brick Lane. It is imperative that we safeguard the interests of the Bangladeshi restaurant industry in this area, and I hope the government will listen. This industry is made up of people who aspire and achieve against all the odds, with integrity. Almost everyone in this room started with nothing, and has put back into the community. I am so proud to be a part of that community.”