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West Suffolk food businesses to be able to pay for fast-tracked hygiene re-inspections

West Suffolk House. (3004257)
West Suffolk House. (3004257)

Restaurants in West Suffolk anticipating poor hygiene ratings will be able to pay for a fast-tracked re-inspection from August.

Members of Forest Heath District and St Edmundsbury Borough Councils agreed to the proposals at licensing meetings last week, which will see tweaks to the inspection process.

Previously, food establishments were required to serve a standstill period of three months following an inspection – if inspectors found issue with either procedure or management.

However, from August 1, any food business concerned about the outcome of their inspections will be able to pay £110 for a fast-tracked re-inspection, as they bid to improve their rating.

An officers' report, which went in front of both councils's licensing committees this week, insisted this was not a case of allowing businesses to 'buy more stars' in the rating system.

Lance Stanbury, Forest Heath's cabinet member for planning and growth said: "Our environmental health team plays an important role both in ensuring food hygiene and safety for the benefits of customers eating out or ordering takeaways – as well as supporting food businesses.

"If businesses for whatever reasons start to slip on these standards, our aim is to work with them to help them improve."

Mr Stanbury said the tweak was not for revenue generating purposes, but instead to allow businesses to address issues more swiftly.

He added: "While we have statutory re-inspections which aren't charged for, this allows a business that has scored low to apply for a quick re-inspection, with this charge going towards covering our costs rather than to generate income."