Shropshire pub boss angry over hygiene visit charge
A Shropshire pub boss is refusing to pay a new fast-track kitchen inspection fee after the premises was stripped of its five-star food hygiene rating.
Stuart Wassall, of the Boar’s Head, in Bishop’s Castle, said the inn was downgraded to one star following a routine visit by a Shropshire Council regulatory services officer in June.
Under new procedures, businesses wanting a follow-up inspection in a bid to quickly lift low ratings are being charged £213.
The council said the payment covers its costs for undertaking a fresh inspection and allows repeat scoring visits to take place sooner, otherwise proprietors face waiting three months for a repeat free inspection to be carried out.
But Mr Wassall today described the newly introduced charge for a fast-track visit as “scandalous”.
“Shropshire Council took us straight from five to one and tried to charge me for a fast-track return visit which I think is wrong. If businesses wait, you get a free visit anyway three months afterwards.
“I think it’s scandalous. It’s the same food hygiene inspector who’s been coming to see us. We are doing the same things that we’ve always done. Nothing’s changed apart from we were undergoing some staff changes and our Good Practice Manual hadn’t been filled in for a couple for shifts.
“Most councils give businesses which don’t normally cause them concern some grace to resolve minor issues, but Shirehall gave us an immediate downgrade.”
Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for regulatory services Councillor Gwilym Butler said: "The Boar's Head, in Bishop’s Castle, was inspected by one of our regulatory services team in June 2019 and was given a rating for the standards of hygiene found at that time.
"This inspection, as all do, took into consideration how hygienically food is handled, the condition of the structure of the premises and how food safety is managed and documented.
"As part of the process we recommended a number of improvements, which would need to be made if the premises rating was to be improved. Following inspection and upon receipt of their score, National Food Hygiene rating scheme (NFHRS) allows businesses to appeal their rating if they feel that is was unfair and or apply for a new rating following the implementation of improvements."
The council introduced a charge for undertaking return visits in July, as these were in addition to their routine inspection programme. Previously, the Food Standard Agency’s food hygiene rating scheme required a three-month standstill period before a new scoring visit could take place.
It added that applications received before July were still subject to the standstill period.