Liverpool’s 30 James Street Hotel, which is owned by Signature Living, has admitted four breaches of food safety and hygiene regulations at Liverpool Crown Court. Tony McDonough reports
Hotel operator Signature Living has been hit with a £60,000 penalty after admitting its the kitchens at its 30 James Street Hotel in Liverpool were “filthy and infested with mice”.
30 James St Ltd, whose parent company is Signature Living Hotel Ltd, pleaded guilty at Liverpool Crown Court to four breaches of food safety and hygiene regulations. It was hit by a £34,000 fine and will have to pay £26,877 in costs.
Liverpool City Council’s environmental team inspected the hotel in March and September 2018 and found filthy kitchens and an infestation of mice – including dead ones. Three of the four breaches were counted as concurrent and the overall fine was reduced by 50% due to the mitigating factor of the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic which has forced the closure of all hotels.
In his summing up Judge Garrett Byrne was severely critical of the management’s mishandling of the issue, in systemically failing to oversee and implement the company’s own food safety and hygiene policies.
The judge also made it clear he recognised the serious nature of the offences, the poor condition of the hotel and the poor conduct of senior management at the hotel who had attempted to divert blame from themselves in ignoring concerns raised by staff.
He said: “This was a failure by the hotel’s senior management who largely ignored concerns raised by others and failed to take action. The hotel owners should have ensured hygiene standards were met and unfairly attributed blame on others, including the ex-Head Chef and other neighbouring businesses.”
Signature Living Hotel Ltd is controlled by Lawrence Kenwright, who is also a director of 30 James Street Ltd. 30 James St Ltd was sentenced after entering a guilty plea. The company had previously pleaded not guilty to hygiene offences at an earlier hearing at Liverpool Crown Court in May 2019.
The March 2018 inspection was prompted by a complaint made by a member of the public which resulted in an unannounced food hygiene inspection The hotel is a popular venue for weddings and functions and has two kitchens; Grand Hall Kitchen on the ground floor and the Carpathia kitchen on the 8th floor.
During the inspection, dead mice were found behind cooking equipment in the hotel’s Grand Hall Kitchen and mouse droppings were found on food preparation surfaces next to catering equipment and crockery. In the Carpathia kitchen, officers found mouse droppings inside frying pans next to the cooker. In both kitchens mouse droppings were found on floor surfaces under cooking equipment and fridge/freezers.
Kitchens were unclean with a build-up of food debris and grease which provided a food source for pests. There were gaps and holes in the wall, floor and ceiling surfaces which provided rodents with access/entry points.
Conditions were so bad that the kitchens were shut down because they presented an “imminent risk to health”. After the hotel carried out remedial works officers revisited a week later and agreed that kitchens could reopen.
The court heard that rodents had been active in the hotel more or less continuously since January 2016. Pest reports revealed that the hotel’s pest contractor frequently made recommendations to the hotel management, such as regular ‘deep cleaning’, storing food in sealed containers, and filling internal holes.
30 James Street Hotel currently holds a ‘3’ (satisfactory) food hygiene rating following the most recent inspection by the city council in August 2019.