Brew­ery is fined £160k as rats seen in ho­tel’s kitchen

Kent Messenger Maidstone - - NEWS - By Alan Smith aj­smith@thek­m­group.co.uk @aj­smithKM

Din­ers en­joy­ing their meals at a pres­ti­gious ho­tel owned by Shep­herd Neame were un­aware rats were run­ning around the kitchen, beer cel­lar and laun­dry room, a court heard.

The pub firm has ad­mit­ted four hy­giene breaches at The Royal Wells Ho­tel, in Tun­bridge Wells, and was fined £160,000 and a judge heard how rats and drop­pings had been found in food stor­age ar­eas.

The Mount Ephraim venue was vis­ited by se­nior en­vi­ron­men­tal health of­fi­cer Justene Lawal in June 2016 af­ter a tip-off rats were com­ing up from the base­ment into the kitchen.

Gen­eral man­ager Martin Lyall told her a pest con­trol com­pany, Mi­tie, had been at­tend­ing the ho­tel for some months.

But when hy­giene in­spec­tors is­sued im­me­di­ate ac­tions and re­turned sev­eral days later they found a rat in­fes­ta­tion in the base­ment with drop­pings in food stor­age ar­eas and a dead rat in a trap, and mess in the clean­ing stores and beer cel­lar.

One of the chefs told Mrs Lawal rats were run­ning around the kitchen ev­ery day. They got in through nu­mer­ous holes in the base­ment.

Mrs Lawal re­turned the same day with her man­ager Nol­laig Hal­han and to­gether they con­ducted a full in­spec­tion which also re­vealed dirty sur­faces, dirty sinks, and drains full of grease.

Rat mess was found along­side sup­pos­edly cleaned crock­ery.

Shep­herd Neame of­fered to sign a Vol­un­tary Food Busi­ness Clo­sure Agree­ment rather than have the of­fi­cers is­sue a pro­hi­bi­tion no­tice forc­ing the ho­tel to close. The kitchen was cleaned and no main meals could be served.

This was lifted af­ter a fur­ther in­spec­tion on June 23 af­ter Mi­tie set 317 glue-traps to catch the rats.

Lee Ben­nett, de­fend­ing, said the com­pany, which had no pre­vi­ous con­vic­tions for its premises, apol­o­gised.

He said the risk to health from rats was low and there was no ev­i­dence food had ac­tu­ally been con­tam­i­nated or any harm caused.

Dis­trict Judge Justin Bar­ron fined Shep­herd Neame £40,000 for each of the four of­fences and or­dered it to pay £9,988 costs.

The Royal Wells was bought by the com­pany in 2012 and a £2.4 mil­lion re­fur­bish­ment was car­ried out, but this did not ex­tend to the base­ment.

Ge­orge Barnes, Shep­herd Neame’s prop­erty and ser­vice di­rec­tor, said: “We apol­o­gise and have taken steps to en­sure this doesn’t hap­pen again.”

The ho­tel is now rated at hy­giene stan­dard 3, mean­ing its pro­ce­dures are sat­is­fac­tory.

The Royal Wells Ho­tel, Tun­bridge Wells, had rats in its kitchen, in­set

Ge­orge Barnes of Shep­herd Neame

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