City pub gets record fine for persistently poor food hygiene

The owners of Winchester pub O’Neills have been fined £36,000 for food hygiene offences – the largest amount yet for the city.

Mitchells and Butler, the owners of O’Neills, High Street, Winchester, were also ordered to pay £5,000 costs when the case was heard at Basingstoke Magistrates Court on Tuesday 7 August. They pleaded guilty to nine charges of failing to comply with food safety legislation.

Also in court was the then manager of O’Neills, Michael ‘Pat’ Rogers who pleaded guilty to seven charges. As the person in control and responsible for the day to day running of the business he was fined £3,000 plus £2,000 costs.

The prosecution by Winchester City Council was taken following a routine inspection of O’Neills by Environmental Health Officer, Gary Howells in September 2006. He found several pieces of equipment, work surfaces, and the floors and walls to be in a very poor state of cleanliness. This followed a previous visit where the company had been warned about poor conditions.

Head of Environment Robert Heathcock said: “I am disappointed that we have had to prosecute three food businesses in as many months. We still remain committed to helping those businesses who want to help themselves but there comes a point with persistent offenders where prosecution is the best solution.”

He added: “This case also highlights that people with day-to-day control of a business may be prosecuted and cannot hide behind the company they work for. I hope other food businesses will take this opportunity to review their systems for maintaining satisfactory food safety standards.”

The premise has now been re-inspected and has been given a ‘satisfactory’ rating.