Fury over hygiene ratings delay

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WIGAN businesses have blasted hygiene chiefs for publishing damagingly outdated standards ratings.

Bosses of the Orwell at Wigan Pier, the Woodlands Court care home in Aspull, Manchester Road Inn at Tyldesley and Mahogany Nursing Home in Newtown all say that their trade has been hit because Food Standards Agency reports have not been published.

All four were rated by council health inspectors as either a lowly zero or one during visits months ago and these figures remain on the FSA’s website despite each having been more positively re-rated since.

Mark Hale took over as general manager of the Orwell last year when it received a zero rating which means urgent action is needed or the premises risks closure. Since then he has introduced a range of improvements and the premises been re-assessed as a three. But you wouldn’t know that from the FSA website.

He said: “Because the Food Agency didn’t update the website our business has been negatively affected. If they are not updating it regularly then it is a cause for concern. It could seriously damage a company’s reputation if people are unaware, especially in these hard economic times.

“We were given a zero rating last year before I started at The Orwell. Since coming into the position, I have made a lot of changes. I have removed previous staff, improved services and there has been a new kitchen installed. We take the welfare of our customers very seriously - they are our top priority.”

Woodlands too now has a rating of three while Mahogany has stepped up from one to two. The reason given by the authorities why the new information hasn’t been available on the internet is because they have only recently been re-inspected.

Owner of the Manchester Road Inn, Ashley Kelshaw, took over the business in May this year and has since significantly improved the standards. From recent inspection, he says has been assured that the venue is now very satisfactory and well respected.

A spokesman for another borough business which fared badly in a previous round of ratings, said: “It simply is not fair. There must be a very strict regime for updating websites like this because they can do untold damage. You could get an owner getting an appalling rating at some establishment or other, selling up immediately afterwards and the new owner coming along, making all kinds of positive changes and still have their hopes of a revival wrecked by a better report not being published for ages.

The authorties say that the reason new reports and ratings have yet to appear is because once an inspector has visited a premises they have to send a letter to the owners and give them 14 days to reply.

Julie Searing, business improvement and compliance manager at Wigan Council, added: “Both The Orwell and Woodlands residential home have recently been inspected for food safety.

“We’ve worked with both establishments to improve the standards, and are pleased that they’ve both increased their original scores and achieved a rating of three.”

A spokesman for the Food Standards Agency said that it the local authorities’ responsibility to update the website after an inspection.