A Suffolk entrepreneur and a company have been fined almost £35,000 for acting ‘recklessly’ in regards to food hygiene at the Limes Hotel in Needham Market.
Richard Cattermole, 70, of Westerfield Road, Ipswich, appeared at Bury Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday charged with seven violations of food hygiene regulations.
Waterhand Ltd, a company his wife Judith, 62, is a director of, also faced eight charges.
Guilty pleas were entered by Mr Cattermole and Waterhand Ltd but the prosecution dropped charges against Mrs Cattermole.
Prosecuting on behalf of Mid Suffolk District Council, David Armstrong said food hygiene inspectors visited the hotel on October 24, 2013, after reports that the drains had blocked up.
Mr Armstrong said that when they arrived at 2pm, senior food and safety officer Sara Proctor and her team discovered three sinks and a dishwasher were all connected to the same blocked drain, leaving no place to wash hands, food or equipment.
Despite the situation, the team had carried out a full lunch-time service.
When the head chef, who had only been working a matter of days, was asked why the kitchen hadn’t closed, he said he didn’t have the authority. Mr Armstrong said the team discovered a catalogue of infractions including dirty extractor fans, dirty fly screens and corridors, rusty racks in the kitchen, damage to a chest freezer, meaning it could not be hygienically cleaned, pipe work wrapped in tea towels, missing wall tiles behind the sink and a ‘general lack of cleaning’.
Mr Armstrong also said the kitchen had problems with ventilation which had led to excessive heat and ‘dangerous’ CO2 levels.
He said: “The engineer the local authority contracted to check the ventilator found that there were dangerously high levels of carbon dioxide present to the point that the cooker range had to be disconnected in order to achieve non-dangerous levels.”
In mitigation, Darren Snow said Cattermole was not involved in the day-to-day running of the kitchen and had trusted his managerial staff to look after the hotel.
Sentencing, Presiding Magistrate Muriel Lawrence said: “We find Mr Cattermole and Waterhand Ltd acted recklessly in their failure to properly manage this business.”
Cattermole was fined £10,800 with costs of £3,432. Waterhand Ltd was fined £24,150 with costs of £6,000.