Café prosecuted after rat infestation discovery

A café has been ordered to pay more than £10,000 after Environmental Health officers uncovered a rat infestation.

Rother District Council officers visited Route 1066 Café in August last year following a report from a member of the public that there were rats in the café. The café is situated on the A21, between Battle and Robertsbridge, and is popular with bikers.

During an inspection of the kitchen, officers found fresh rat droppings under kitchen workstations and in the storerooms, rat paw prints in the dust behind a chest freezer, food packaging gnawed by rats and empty packets of rat poison which also had been gnawed by rats. The business was open and trading, with staff were preparing food as the inspection took place.

A hole was also found in the storeroom, which acted as an entry point for the rats, and more rat droppings were found behind the building where rubbish was piled up.

Further investigations found that Food Hygiene records, a legal requirement for any food business, were not up to date.

Café operator Sandra Wells, 62, who lives above the café, was questioned by officers and admitted that she was aware of the rat infestation. She said she had tried to get help but had not been successful.  Ms Wells immediately and voluntarily, closed the business and began making the necessary improvements. The café remained closed for one week until the infestation was eliminated, a deep clean completed, the rat entrance holes blocked and the record keeping recommenced.

On Thursday, April 25, at Hastings Magistrates’ Court Ms Wells, as a director of Route 1066 Café Limited, pleaded guilty to three offences under Food Hygiene legislation.

When asked why she had not informed the council when she became aware of the rats, Ms Wells said she had not done enough to deal with the problem and was deeply ashamed of how bad things had got.

Route 1066 Café was fined a total of £6,000 for the three offences and ordered to pay a £2,400 surcharge and full costs to Rother District Council of £1,724.51.

Rother District Council’s portfolio holder for Environmental Health Cllr Kathryn Field, said: “We are pleased that the court has recognised the diligent work of our Environmental Health team in protecting the public health of our residents and visitors. When we are alerted to unsafe conditions, we act to make conditions safe for everyone”.


Published: 26th April 2024

Aiimee Digital Assistant Icon

Aiimee - Rother Digital Assistant

Ask me a question!