East Croydon pub hit with £180,000 fine over mouse droppings

The Porter and Sorter, next to East Croydon Station, has been fined £180,000 plus costs for failing to maintain adequate food hygiene standards.

Sorted: the East Croydon Station pub, popular with football fans on match days

The pub, which is popular with Crystal Palace fans seeking a pre-match pint and burger, was visited by council health inspectors in February and was immediately closed down for four days.

The fine was handed down this week by District Judge Susan Green to pub owners, brewers Marston’s, after Croydon Council brought the prosecution for having a dirty kitchen, mouse droppings and poor hygiene practices.

Marston’s were fined £180,000, plus ordered to pay £5,854.88 in costs, after it admitted multiple hygiene failings at the Porter and Sorter, which describes itself as a “pub and restaurant”.

The fine is among the biggest ever issued to a Croydon food outlet for hygiene shortcomings.

The Porter and Sorter just happens to sit on the opposite side of East Croydon Station from Boozepark, the food and drink outlet run by a private business which was established with a £3million loan from Croydon Council, who have also handed the business nearly £500,000 in publicly funded grants since it opened in 2016.

The Porter and Sorter case followed a council inspection of the pub on Billinton Hill in February, where they found a scene worthy of a Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares...

  • Mouse droppings in the kitchen, including in a roasting tin, among utensils, on a serving plate, on tea towels and next to a washing-up sink
  • All fridges, walk-in chillers and a freezer were dirty
  • Grease build-up on a ventilation fan and on pipework.

Council inspectors also found missing and broken wall tiles, trapped dirt under an area of plastic skirting that had come loose, and a broken glass behind the prosecco fridge in the main bar.

The council inspectors found mouse droppings in the pub kitchen

The owners immediately closed the kitchen at the council’s request, and the council advised the pub of the action needed to rectify the poor standards found. After a deep-clean, the kitchen reopened less than a week later.

According to a statement issued by the council this morning, “The national Food Safety and Hygiene Regulations require all businesses serving food to have adequate food safety management systems, and effective practices and procedures to control vermin. This includes properly cleaning anything that comes into contact with food, as well as maintaining permanent food hygiene procedures.

“In this case, procedures set by Marston’s had failed to be implemented correctly.”

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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15 Responses to East Croydon pub hit with £180,000 fine over mouse droppings

  1. David Wickens says:

    The scale of fines for hygiene breaches seem excessive and could result in businesses closing. Some might say that is a good thing but contrast that to serious failings in public service provision for children in care where there are no such fines.

  2. Bernard Winchester says:

    I must confess to having some sympathy with the pub here, as the mouse population in Croydon seems to have increased to medieval levels in recent years, making it almost impossible to exclude these creatures from any premises. Draconian fines upon an already fragile sector (witness Poundworld’s demise after being hit with a £1.2million levy for the same reason last year) will inevitably result in the closure of businesses and the loss of jobs and amenities. I would favour, at least initially, a more co-operative approach in dealing with this ubiquitous nuisance.

    • The fine will have been set by the judge, though doubtless after some discussion with the prosecuting authority.

      Whether it is appropriate for the regulating authority to be taking such action when it has lent £3million to a rival food and drink outlet just a few yards away, and which might be put at a commercial advantage if this pub were to close, is something that deserves consideration.

      • Inside Croydon makes a good point but perhaps a look at the box park hygiene and how customers trail food to all points of the compass as they leave including East Croydon Station would not go amiss. At the same time the Station management actions on vermin (reasonable), Veolia’s ( incompetence) in clearing refuse and mess and the council (inaction) causes a perfect storm for the other side of the tracks. This does not exculpate the porter and sorter from its own hygiene issues but it is a bit like pan calling kettle grimy and asking the meat tenderiser to administer a big bashing to kettle for boiling over despite not being the culprit who turned up the heat. Yep the Council is now King John using the New Sheriff to tactically fleece those out of favour. Take a walk down the London Road both sides to the hospital and you will see mice, rats and foxes not only on to of bins but munching on food waste on the road and pavements in the windows of food outlets (whilst still open) with hygiene so appaling it would make the porter and sorter look practically squeeky (pardon the pun). Hmmm not a single 6 figure fine anywhere in sight for those miscreants. It all smacks of someone being made an example of sp as others can pretend they are actually doing something. Now what was that book called? Ah yes thats it The Emporers New Clothes!

  3. Lewis White says:

    This highlights the fact that far too many restaurants pubs and cafes have appallingly low standards of kitchen hygiene. However, in my view, we need to rearrange the licencing of all eateries and drinkeries, to include not only kitchen hygiene but the quality of the toilets.

    The standard of far too many pub, cafe and restaurant loos and washrooms is quite frankly, appalling. Part of this is sadly the result of customers who have never been potty-trained, or like to rip seats off the chinaware. Selfish and stupid.

    However, toilets that don’t work, toilets that have cisterns that take an hour to refill after flushing, wooden panelling and plasterwork that is falling off, stained tiling, dirty walls etc etc, are in the control of the owners, like the pub co’s.

    I would like to see every premises that serves food or drink inspected in both the kitchens and the loos. Not sure how this could be enforced, but we need to improve things.

  4. Nick Davies says:

    Marston’s turn over in excess of £1 billion a year and make a healthy profit. There’s nothing fragile about them. The fine needs to be enough to raise questions at board level and be career limiting down the management line. They’re unlikely to punish the outlet by closing it if, despite the reputational damage, it remains profitable. And just imagine the fuss if the council only issued an improvement notice and the pub subsequently went on to poison someone.

  5. derekthrower says:

    Marston’s has a turnover in excess of a billion and made profits of over £100 million last year so this fine though surprisingly high for what is normally levied in Croydon is not disproportionate since it is always a busy pub. No doubt this loss can be used to write off some tax imposed from another source and some appraisal has been undertaking that it is not worth the legal fees in comprehensively appealing the decision.
    Surprised that their legal team did not try to mitigate their circumstances regarding the outbreak due to the dereliction of the adjoining site which now will probably remain undeveloped for decades as part of the Network Rail proposals. With such a large site there will no doubt be pest control issues in the surrounding area for sometime to come.

  6. karenjewitt says:

    I am the manager of a charity that runs a lunch and social club for older people and adults with learning disabilities. We have two part time members of paid staff of which I am one. The rest of our help is volunteers, mostly older retired people. Our kitchen has a high food hygiene rating, we keep it spotless clean, There is no financial reward for the hours our volunteers put in and although the staff are paid for 24hrs a week there is many hours added to that we volunteer. If we can keep our kitchen and prep areas safe from bringing harm to our folks so can a commercial money making organisation. If we were shut because of careless hygiene practices the ramifications to our older people in particular would be huge. I see no reason why paid staff cannot do the same, have some pride.

    • derekthrower says:

      Admire your pride in your work as a volunteer, but don’t think you are aware of the short cuts that are undertaken in business to make sure you comply with the ultimate aim of profit when you are short staffed and underpaid to deal with the magnitude of a pest outbreak which is exacerbated by having an enormous derelict building right next to you.

  7. karenjewitt says:

    I am not daft, I know exactly what it takes to clean, use detergents, scourers and hot water. I manage my kitchen. It is cleaned at the end of every shift, no dirt left behind to build up. We work in an old church hall with a kitchen that has seen better days. But we clean. It makes our lives easier to work there and protects those who eat here. We have exactly the same rules and regulations without exception that the pub has. We have the records of fridge, freezer, temperature, cooked and raw food diaries to keep every day. You never know when environmental health is going to walk through the door

    • Thing is, you’re both correct.

      Yes, there is complete responsibility on the owners for the highest standards of hygiene.

      And yes, underpaid and understaffed pub employees probably miss out on proper support in fulfilling those tasks from their management.

      Still awaiting a full explanation for the severity of the fine, however. The council’s dynamic presss office did not mention a history of warnings to the Porter and Sorter – which they surely would have done if that had been the case.

      With the long-derelict Royal Mail building nearby undoubtedly host to vermin, how long before such punitive fines make it uneconomic for Marston’s to keep the Porter and Sorter open, when faced with competition on the other side of the station from the council-funded Boozepark?

  8. derekthrower says:

    Well wasn’t that the case with the Porter & Sorter? The owners accepted that their own rules and regulations have been transgressed and so could not have been managing and staffing the facility appropriately. People are not all motivated by money, but when you are working on the minimum wage to make a living you are not motivated in the same way someone is providing services voluntarily.

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