A man in charge of a filthy Blackpool takeaway infested with rats has been banned from running any food outlet again in the UK.
Preston Crown Court heard Zulfiqar Malik, 58, had failed to make improvements at the Food Hub on Albert Road after being served in June last year with a food hygiene order from Blackpool Council following an inspection.
The case was sent up to the crown court, where judges have the power to hand out tougher sentences than are possible for Blackpool’s magistrates.
They had been told the original inspection came after a complaint about a rat being seen at the Food Hub.
When the inspector returned after a month to the restaurant to view improvements they found in the basement evidence of old and new rat droppings, flies and a foul smell.
Malik, who has left the resort and now lives in Copenhagen Close, Luton, had a long history of failing to comply with hygiene rules for around eight years.
At Preston, the 58-year-old was also told he must also do 160 hours of unpaid work as a community order for six breaches of food hygiene laws and must pay £1,540 in court costs.
The stiff penalty was welcomed by Blackpool Council for sending out a tough message to others.
Coun Gillian Campbell, Blackpool Council’s deputy leader said: “We will always try to work with businesses with regards to hygiene matters. We want to see our food businesses thrive, but when standards are extremely poor we will not hesitate to take enforcement action to protect both residents and visitors.
“We are delighted that this case was successfully prosecuted. Mr Malik is now prohibited from managing any food establishment.
“This should send out a strong message to other business owners of the consequences of flouting hygiene regulations and potentially putting the public at risk.”
At the earlier hearing at Blackpool Magistrates’ Court, Sharon Davies, prosecuting for the local authority, said: “The owner was given a month to deal with the matters before a re-inspection.
“When that was done, things had not been dealt with and the inspector went into the basement area where there was a foul smell and the rat droppings and flies.
“There were holes in the walls which would have allowed rats to get inside.
“The owner denied there was a rat problem and he was told he would have to close until it was dealt with.
“There has been a history of non-compliance over food hygiene since 2011. Rats carry germs which can cause serious illness even death.”
Brett Chappell defending said: “My client is crestfallen, embarrassed and ashamed. He does not pass the buck. He takes full responsibility.
“A lot of the problems were due to financial pressure and he was £50,000 in debt.”