A Sandown councillor – and restaurant owner – has been ordered to pay more than £6,000 for consistently failing to meet minimum food hygiene standards.

On Monday (13), Isle of Wight Magistrates heard how poor standards of cleanliness had persisted at Swad, in Sandown High Street, over several years. That is despite numerous interventions by the Isle of Wight Council.

The restaurant’s owner, Councillor Rajesh Patel, was fined £4,800, reduced to £3,200 for an early guilty plea, with the council awarded £2,702 in costs.

Mr Patel had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to five food hygiene offences, including failing to keep the premises clean and failing to protect food from contamination.

Magistrates heard how inspections in 2016, 2017 and 2018 all resulted in the business being graded as 0 out of 5 on the national Food Hygiene Rating Scheme and described as requiring ‘urgent improvement’.

When officers from the local authority’s environmental health department visited the premises in March 2018, they noted equipment was visibly unclean, with evidence of grease, food debris and dirt throughout the food preparation rooms.

There was inadequate segregation of raw chicken stored in carrier bags above ready-to-eat ice cream within a freezer, while foods including prawns, samosas and prepared chicken had been left uncovered in another.

The designated hand wash basin had no hot running water or hand soap, while another sink was obstructed by equipment.

The kitchen floor was unclean with cracked, uneven and missing tiles.

The inspection also revealed a number of foods stored in the fridges and freezers had not been given date labels.

Mr Patel, who has run the business for 11 years, agreed to close the restaurant voluntarily and undertake a deep clean of the premises which was confirmed in a follow-up inspection.

However, when officers visited again in June 2018, further failings were identified – some of which had been identified in the March inspection.

The court heard when officers visited in September 2018, many of the failings were still apparent.

Speaking after the case, Amanda Gregory, strategic manager for regulatory and community safety services, said:

“We expect all food businesses to comply with the law and ensure consumers are not at risk.

“Advice and assistance is given but if non-compliance is repeated or when serious offences are identified, we will prosecute, not only to protect the public but to ensure a level playing field for the vast majority of Island business who do comply.”

For further advice, visit https://www.food.gov.uk/business-industry/food-hygiene