Friday, March 04, 2005

Well, That Was Different

I closed down a takeaway food shop the other day. I have done some odd things in my judicial capacity, but never shut a chippy before.

The local Council's Environmental Health Officers had carried out a routine check on a local takeaway and found appalling breaches of the hygiene rules. By way of evidence they produced about twenty digital colour photos printed A4 size on a laser printer. These showed an overall coating of grime, live and dead cockroaches all over the place, with cracked and filthy walls floors and preparation surfaces. The red tiled floor was overall dark grey except for a lighter track where staff walked through regularly, and it was black where the floor met the walls. The store room was liberally sprinkled with mouse droppings. It was lucky that the case came on in the afternoon, after I had eaten my lunch, because the photographs were literally nauseating. The Council had used its power to slap a closure order on the shop, but they then have three days to persuade a bench of magistrates that they have acted correctly. If the magistrates refuse to approve the action then the council will have to pay compensation for loss of business to the shopkeeper.

We confirmed the order and awarded the council £1000 costs. The shop owner must have cleaned up his act within a week or so, because when I drove by the shop ten days later it was open, with a queue of customers waiting for their delicious suppers.

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