Owners of an Indian restaurant have been taken to court because of the cooking smells coming from the kitchen.
Shabana and Mohammed Khushi were each fined by Middlesbrough Council for not having a sufficient filtration system at the Khushi Buffet restaurant in Linthorpe, North Yorkshire.
The council's decision was prompted by complaints from local residents, reported The Gazette.
But curry fans have rallied around the restaurant in support. In letters written to the judge, local businesses and councillors said they've never had a problem with curry smells on the road, while a charity praised the owners for providing items for a local food bank.
District Judge Kristina Harrison heard from a council prosecutor that some residents had complained that the smell of ‘spicy food' from the restaurant's kitchen filtered in through their windows. They described the fragrant smells as overpowering.
It was alleged that the smells were so strong, residents were left needing to wash their clothes.
Defence solicitor Neil Douglas said that because the business had moved into a former pub building in 2015, no variation of planning permission was needed. The owners didn't know they needed to upgrade their filtration system.
A company that specialises in fitting out Asian restaurants installed the kitchen in 2015, which led the Khushi owners to believe they had the right equipment.
The pair, who are joint directors of the business, had already upgraded their filtration system at a cost of £3,500 to £4,500.
Commenting after the case, Shabana Khushi expressed relief but said she and Mohammed felt let down by the council.
"We've tried to be a good neighbour but we feel we've been targeted by a small minority of people," she explained. "Others have said they can't smell anything until they're inside the restaurant. But other businesses in the area have been very supportive, as have our fantastic customers."
Mohammed Khushi added: "It has been very stressful. We have had this hanging over us, and we will also have the fine hanging over us and when you start a business, you're trying everything you can to be a success."