Blackpool takeaway closed down after dead rat found in cellar

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Emergency powers were used to close a Blackpool takeaway after a dead rat was found in the cellar.

Such was the filth in the kitchen and dining areas of the Shalimar Gardens that environmental health officers feared for the health of customers.

Coun Gillian Campbell, Deputy Leader of Blackpool Council, said: “What we found at Shalimar Gardens was wholly unacceptable.”

Health officers feared the rat infestation could pass on illnesses such as salmonella, e-coli and even potentially deadly tuberculosis (TB).

A dead rat was found on the premises, as well as a large amount of rat droppings.

A notice stating the council’s intention to act had been placed in the windows of the Shalimar but had been removed and hidden under a pile of menus the court hearing was told.

The man currently running the Shalimar which cooks, curries, kebabs, pizzas and chicken, Mohammed Ishtiaq, of Whalley New Road, Blackburn, did not attend the hearing.

Prosecutor Lynda Bennett said: “This place will now not re-open until we are satisfied that the risks to the public are removed.”

She said the council had acted after a complaint about the dirty premises was made by a customer and added there had been concern about the state of the premises for years.

She said there was evidence of rodent droppings in the kitchen and cellars and a dead rat was discovered.

Council staff found a poor standard of cleanliness with food debris on the floor.

Ms Bennett said: “We believe there is a serious hygiene problem and an imminent risk to the public.

“We also have concerns about the way the official notice about the closure was removed.

“Rodents and in particular rats pose a serious health risk.

“They had access from the sewers because the lid did not fit and there were gaps at the bottom of doors where pests could get in.

“Rats can cause illness – even death. They cause salmonella, e coli and TB and their urine can cause Weils Disease.”

She said the premises had been previously made the subject of an emergency notice when they cooked food without a water supply.

Environmental health officer Carolyn Bland gave evidence describing how the sewer manhole cover had gaps around it.

She said: “When we arrived to inspect there was cooking going on despite dirt grease and an accumulation of waste food.

“There was a point of entry for rats from the sewers and I found a dead rat in the cellar.”

Her colleague, Lindsay Milner, told the court she had monitored the premises since the inspection of Friday January 13.

One evening she had seen a light on in the kitchen and feared someone may have been cooking online takeaway orders.

However, when she entered she found a man cleaning and noticed a piece of broken worktop had been put over the unstable manhole area.

She said the Shalimar had enjoyed an up and down history – at one stage getting a four rating.

“But it always seems to slip back again,” she added.

Granting the order, magistrates praised the council team for reacting to the problem so quickly.

Coun Campbell, Deputy Leader of Blackpool Council, said: “What we found at Shalimar Gardens was wholly unacceptable and there was absolutely no way that we could allow this business to continue trading as it was.

“The owners have some serious work to do before we even consider lifting the ban on them serving food to the public. The kitchens need cleaning up, the vermin need removing and a solution to fix the manhole cover needs finding.

“We will not allow the takeaway to re-open until we are 100 per cent satisfied that it is clean and safe to serve food again.

“Let’s be clear, most food premises in Blackpool are clean and hygienic but we will not hesitate to act if we find business serving food to the public in unsafe conditions.

“Good practice for anybody eating out or buying a takeaway is to check the food hygiene rating of where you are eating.

“That rating will normally be placed on a window or door of the property, and if the rating isn’t displayed then you can check it at www.food.gov.uk/ratings.”

In 2007 the restaurant was gutted by a blaze which destroyed the kitchen and dining room. Up to 20 firefighters battled for three hours to bring flames under control.

The blaze began in the kitchen and quickly spread to the roof after fire shot up a 30ft chimney. Residents in first floor flats were sandwiched between the fire in the restaurant and that in the roof.