Leicester fruit and vegetable shop infested by rats
A court has ordered the continued closure of a Leicester fruit and vegetable shop infested by rats.
Food safety officers said the premises in Melton Road were in an appalling condition when they visited them on October 11.
They found rat droppings near open boxes of fruit and vegetables and the carcasses of dead birds.
They also discovered there was no running water, no sink and no electricity supply.
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Leicester magistrates were yesterday told that inspectors ordered the immediate closure as it was a "risk of injury to health" and issued instructions to businessman Amin Delir to clean up the building.
The shop, N and A Fruit and Veg, was boarded up and yesterday morning health officers visited the shop again to see if any work had been carried out.
Environment officer Alison Cadmore said the building was still boarded up and asked for Leicester magistrates to issue a closure order under the 2006 food hygiene laws.
Miss Cadmore told the court she visited the building at 11.30am, on October 11, after a colleague had called her in.
She said: "The premises were in an appalling condition. There were holes in the walls and under the doors where rats could get in.
"There was evidence of rat infestation and a risk that fruit and vegetables could be contaminated by rat droppings and urine.
"There were also the remains of dead birds in two of the rooms."
She said there was no water supply to the building and no sink, so people had nowhere to wash their hands. She also said there was no electricity supply either.
She issued Mr Delir with a hygiene emergency prohibition notice closing the shop because of "unsanitary conditions, inadequate facilities and rat activity at the premises".
She issued him with a nine-point action plan to rectify the problems, which included bringing in a proper pest controller, disinfecting and cleaning the premises and providing proper washing facilities. None of the work had been carried out.
Shilpa Thakrar, representing the city council, formally applied for a closure order to ensure the building could not start trading again until the improvements had been carried out. She said the investigation at the shop had cost £416 to carry out and asked for £100 towards legal costs.
Magistrate Jenny Joannou ordered that Mr Delir should pay £516 costs.
Mr Delir, of Creed Way, West Bromwich, did not attend the hearing.
But afterwards, he said: "I rented the building and I contacted a builder about carrying out repairs and he said it would cost £15,000. That is too much for me and I will not be re-opening the shop."
Adrian Russell, Leicester City Council director of environmental and enforcement services, said: "Our inspectors carry out an essential role in protecting the public safety.
"On occasions such as this, where an inspection finds significant failings that could have serious health implications for customers, prompt action needs to be taken to prevent trading until standards are met."