Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Filthy conditions earn firm a £15,000 bill

A firm has been handed a bill for almost £15,000 over filthy conditions in a Leeds pub it operated.

Mitchells and Butlers Retail Ltd, which runs The Wellington public house on Wetherby Road, Leeds, yesterday pleaded guilty at Leeds Magistrates Court to three hygiene offences.

They relate to filthy conditions discovered during a routine food hygiene inspection on 18 September 2008 by Leeds City Council Environmental Health Officers.

The firm was fined £3,500 for failing to keep clean equipment and surfaces with which food comes into contact with, £2,000 for failing to keep clean the structure of the kitchen, servery and adjoining areas, and £2,000 for failing to provide soap and paper towels at the wash hand basin in the kitchen. The council was awarded full costs of £7,199 – making a total of £14,699.

The firm has apologised and acknowledged that conditions in the Wellington were poor, while magistrates acknowledged that more robust procedures had now been put in place by the company.

During their inspection, officers found deposits of grease, dirt and debris including food debris stuck to the walls, floor, wash hand basin and service pipes in the kitchen. There were deposits of dried blood spillage on the floor of the walk in chiller and the remains of a crushed beetle on the floor.

The floor, work surfaces and cupboards in the carvery area had deposits of dirt, dust and debris adhered to them. The surfaces and base supports of the carvery unit had accumulations of grease and dirt on them. Some of the metal lids to the serving dishes had deposits of old food stuck to the parts of their surfaces that are placed above food.

Other equipment was found to be dirty including the ice machine, which accumulated material consistent with mould growth on its inner surfaces. A chopping board used for cutting potatoes, lettuce and tomatoes had a scored and dirty surface.

At the time of the inspection there was no soap or paper towels at the wash hand basin in the kitchen. The outside store was very dirty and items of food, including a Yorkshire pudding, onions and potatoes, were found on the floor.

Councillor James Monaghan, Leeds City Council’s executive board member for environmental health, said:
“When people visit a pub or restaurant in Leeds they expect the highest standards of cleanliness from those preparing their food.
“In this case, it’s clear there was a significant problem at this pub and the size of the fine handed down to the owners reflects that.
“The majority of restaurant and pub owners keep things clean but we will always take action where we find unacceptable conditions.”

For media enquiries please contact:
Michael Molcher, Leeds City Council (0113) 224 3937
e-mail: michael.molcher@leeds.gov.uk

The Mansion given prestigious blue plaque honour

Caption: A colour postcard of The Mansion dated 1904

One of the most famous and well-loved buildings in Leeds is to be given a special honour this week as The Mansion in Roundhay Park is awarded a Leeds Civic Trust Blue Plaque.

In a ceremony taking place at the Grade II-listed building off Mansion Lane at 11:30am on Wednesday 27th January, Leeds City Council executive member for Leisure Councillor John Procter will officially accept the historic blue plaque on behalf of the city of Leeds from the Leeds Civic Trust.

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All media are invited to attend the ceremony which will see the historic Mansion building being awarded a prestigious blue plaque by the Leeds Civic Trust. The cermoney will take place at the Mansion at 11.30am on Wednesday 27th Janaury.
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The plaque itself – only awarded to buildings of special importance or significance - has been inscribed with a brief history of Roundhay Park and The Mansion itself which dates back to 1815, and has been awarded to celebrate the successful reopening of the building last year after being closed for six years.

The grand reopening in August 2009 followed a major £8m restoration project carried out on the park and The Mansion carried out by Leeds City Council with major funding of £6.3m from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The council worked with operator Dine to restore The Mansion to its former glory, complete with a magnificent sweeping staircase, chandeliers and mahogany banister, and it is now one of the finest wedding venues in the region as well as offering a café-restaurant, meeting rooms and corporate event spaces.

Leeds City Council executive member for Leisure Councillor John Procter said:
“We are absolutely thrilled with the success of the restoration project to The Mansion and Roundhay Park itself, and this prestigious blue plaque award is a fantastic recognition of the history of this amazing building and all the hard work that went into restoring it back to its rightful grandeur. Now it is reopened The Mansion is going from strength to strength, and so I am delighted to accept this award on behalf of The Mansion and the city of Leeds.”

Ahead of the presentation of the blue plaque, Director of Leeds Civic Trust Kevin Grady said:
“The Trust is delighted that at last The Mansion has been splendidly refurbished so that Leeds people can once again enjoy eating and drinking in this landmark historic building. The Mansion was built by Thomas Nicholson in 1815 as the centrepiece of his wonderfully landscaped Roundhay estate.

“It was thanks to the acumen of John Barran, the mayor of Leeds, that this substantial part of the medieval hunting park, “the Round Hay” was acquired for the people of Leeds in 1871. Since then, Roundhay Park and the Mansion have become one of the great treasures of Leeds.”

The blue plaque for The Mansion has been sponsored by Daniel Gill, Managing Director of operator Dine, who said:
“The Mansion has a central place in beautiful Roundhay Park and the history of Leeds. It has been a real honour to be involved in the final stage of the restoration and to be able to work with Leeds City Council and our designers to ensure that this iconic building is able to offer the people of Leeds everything from a fun family lunch in the Garden Room restaurant to an elegant venue for weddings and celebrations in a memorable setting.”

For further information on The Mansion at Roundhay Park, visit the official website at http://www.dineinthemansion.co.uk/ or call 0345 450 4545.

Notes to editors:
The Mansion is an impressive regency country house, situated in 700 acres of woodland and water gardens at Roundhay Park, Leeds. The house was built in 1815 after architect John Clarke was commissioned to design it by the then owner of Roundhay Park, Thomas Nicholson.

The building and park were then acquired for the people of Leeds in 1871 by Mayor John Barran and The Mansion established local and national renown as a café restaurant, carvery and party venue and acknowledged as one of the very best historic city venues in the country.

The house was managed for over 120 years by the Gilpin family, the most famous of whom was Craven Gilpin. He pioneered professional outside catering from The Mansion and his reputation was such that King George V requested to meet him after a royal banquet at Leeds Town Hall in 1933.

After the Gilpin family relinquished their tenancy in 2003, Leeds City Council undertook a major assessment of the state of the house which found it to be in a serious state of disrepair, in need of major refurbishment, maintenance and repair.

In 2003, Leeds City Council with significant funding support from the Heritage Lottery Fund began a major £8million restoration scheme for the whole of Roundhay Park which included a multi-million pound restoration scheme for The Mansion. One of the principal aims of both the park and Mansion restoration was to make them both more family friendly and place the park as one of the foremost family attractions in Leeds and the wider region. The council’s refurbishment programme to the fabric of The Mansion was completed in 2007 and in January 2009 Dine carried out a programme to restore the building’s interior before its successful reopening in August 2009.

Leeds Civic Trust is a voluntary organisation which works in co-operatioon with the public and private sector to make Leeds a pleasant and welcoming place to "live, work and play". The Trust encourages good modern developments as well as ensuring the finest historical elements of the city are conserved. For further information visit the website at http://www.leedscivictrust.org.uk/


For media enquiries please contact:
Roger Boyde,
Learning and Leisure Media Relations Officer,
Tel 0113 247 5472
Email: roger.boyde@leeds.gov.uk

Closure of Cross Green market

Leaders of Leeds City Council have decided to close the Sunday market at Cross Green because of the high levels of illegal and counterfeit goods on sale.

The market, which was closed because of the snow for two weeks after Christmas, will not now reopen. Letters have gone out to all stallholders explaining the reasons behind the decision.

The market, which has been operating since the early 1990s, attracts up to 1,000 stallholders every week. But in recent years it had become the focus for organised criminal activity, including the sale of counterfeit music, DVDs and clothing.

In a bid to tackle the problem, the council, police and Trading Standards mounted a number of pro-active operations at the site, including issuing permits and a trader registration scheme. However, despite arrests and subsequent convictions it has not solved the issue.

The scale of the problem and the nature of the site means the measures have made little difference and closure was the only option.

Councillor, Les Carter, Leeds City Council’s executive board member for community safety and the chairman of Safer Leeds said:
“I’m saddened that we have had to take the decision to close Cross Green market but the level of counterfeit and stolen goods being traded there left us with little choice. Over the past year we have worked closely with the police and trading standards officers to try and deal with the issue but the problem persists.
“I’m afraid the criminal minority has managed to spoil things for the vast majority of law-abiding people.
“It should also be noted that people were coming from other parts of the country to take part in this illegal trading.
“Leeds has a thriving market culture and we will continue to do all we can to support that but illegal traders must understand that we will always take action against illegal activities.”

Superintendent Simon Whitehead from Safer Leeds, the city's crime reduction partnership, said:
"It is unfortunate that a decision to close Cross Green Market has had to be taken but the manufacture and sale of counterfeit goods is a serious issue and has a significant element in organised crime.
"Working alongside Leeds City Council and FACT (Federation Against Copyright Theft) we have taken every step possible to combat this matter.
"The sale of counterfeit music and films may seem appealing but the profits from these goods is used to fund organised crime and by purchasing these products people may be unwittingly helping to fund high level criminality like drug dealing and people trafficking.
"I would urge anyone who is offered these types of goods to realise what truly lies behind this type of crime and to report anyone selling these products to local police via: 08456 60 60 606 or call Crimestoppers anonymously and in confidence via: 0800 555 111."

The decision has been welcomed by campaigners from FACT, the Federation Against Copyright Theft, and the BPI, which represents the British music industry.

Kieron Sharp, FACT Director General, said:
“FACT has been working with Safer Leeds to find a solution to the problems that have plagued Cross Green Market for years. Over the past year alone we, along with other organisations, have made frequent visits to the market and found a high proportion of stalls selling counterfeit and stolen goods.
“FACT works with a wide range of organisations as part of the ‘Real Deal’ campaign which seeks to make markets across England and Wales safe for the public to visit by removing those selling counterfeits and getting the market operators and local councils to sign up to a code of conduct.
“It is vital that the trade in counterfeit goods which has blighted so many markets is stamped out and those markets are returned to being safe environments for families to enjoy. It is regrettable that criminal activity in Cross Green Market had reached such levels that the only solution was to shut it down. However, we will continue to work with Leeds City Council to sign up other markets to the Real Deal Charter.”

Notes to editors:

Safer Leeds
is the crime reduction partnership between Leeds City Council, West Yorkshire Police and other agencies.

The Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) is the UK's leading trade organisation established to protect and represent the interests of the film and broadcasting industry against copyright and trademark infringements. Established in 1983, FACT works closely with statutory law enforcement agencies to combat the growth of pirate film and television programme DVDs and other forms of broadcast material including the increasing threat from online/internet based piracy

For media enquiries please contact:
Michael Molcher, Leeds City Council (0113) 224 3937
e-mail: michael.molcher@leeds.gov.uk