NIGEL THORNTON: Close down the dirty restaurants

Thornton on Thursday column with Peterborough Telegraph's deputy editor Nigel Thornton - peterboroughtoday.co.uk

Thornton on Thursday column with Peterborough Telegraph's deputy editor Nigel Thornton - peterboroughtoday.co.uk

Are you as baffled as me as to why food outlets that get poor hygiene ratings are allowed to continue to trade?

Some months ago the PT published a comprehensive list of ratings for restaurants, takeaways, pubs, cafes and other organisations.

Last week we published an updated list which showed that 125 outlets in the city were failing to meet the minimum standards - that’s not far short of one in ten.

Following inspections, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) give outlets ratings from zero to five stars.

If you get a zero urgent improvements are necessary, one star means major improvements are necessary and two stars means improvements are necessary.

In Peterborough, eightoutlets had a shameful zero rating. Yet, they are still open and serving food.

On its website the FSA, says “any business should be able to reach this top rating’’.

It also points out that the purpose of the checks is to ensure that the “food served or sold to you is safe to eat’’.

I’m having trouble reconciling these statements with a situation where a zero or one rated business can continue to sell food.

The agency does have in its power the ability to shut places down but seems to rarely use this sanction.

Supporters would no doubt say at least the places are being inspected and you can find out those results.

But if I’d eaten at one of those places only to find out later about its appalling standards I’d be furious – and that’s even if I hadn’t fallen ill.

Of course, most people will not put their money or their mouth anywhere near these places, but that’s not the point.

Zero rating, should mean zero tolerance for those food outlets who have failed miserably to clean up their act.

Unhealthy situation

Amongst all the problems, scandals and difficulties that beset the NHS tucked away on Page 30 of last week’s PT there was a very telling comment on why this much loved instituion is in such a crisis.

Well-known Peterborough GP Dr Koneru Prasad has retired after more than 40 years in practice.

He said: “I thoroughly enjoyed working for the NHS, but I’m not happy to be working in it anymore because of the bureaucracy involved.’’

Taxing times

It’s not often I find myself agreeing with the editorial comment in the Daily Mail...

“Instead of grovelling before the politics of envy mob, the Prime Minister should be arguing that, for most people, Inheritance Tax - by re-taxing income that has already been taxed - is unfair.’’

I read that and thought “you know what, they have a point’’.

That was until I engaged my brain and spotted the fatal flaw in their reasoning. It assumes the morally bankrupt ‘wealth creators’ actually pay the tax they should do in the first place.

Streets ahead

Lincolnshire County Council has been rated as one of the best highways authorities in the country which in a nation of potholes is probably not the most notable of accolades. To paraphrase the late great rugby commentator Bill McLaren (gosh, I still miss that voice) they’ll be dancing in the streets of Deeping and Bourne tonight.

Where you bin?

More excitement for the Yellowbellies out Spalding way. South Holland District Council is offering residents a chance “to talk live and direct to officers behind the new Garden Waste scheme on Tuesday, 19 April.

“For the first time, South Holland District Council will hold a live question and answer session on Facebook for anyone wanting to know more about the scheme.’’

I hope there’s nothing good on the telly that night.

Diary Of A Bad Dad

I’m becoming quite a connoisseur of children’s books. I have my favourites and some I loathe. Bedtime reading with Toddler T is one of my parental duties and I swear she picks the ones she knows I don’t like.

Basically, anything that has a princess in is enough to tip me over the edge.

I prefer my children’s stories to be a bit edgier such as The Tiger Who Came To Tea – nobody’s sure when that cat is going to snap and eat the entire family.

And anything that has the Gruffalo is in is fine with me. I just need stories with a little menace and mayhem.

My current must-reads are the wonderful tales penned by Dr Seuss.

Wocket In My Pocket is now one of my favourite books alongside Catch 22, Crime And Punishment and You Get Nowt For Being Second (Leeds United legend Billy Bremner’s autobiogaphy in case you were wondering!).

The Cat In The Hat is not far behind mainly for those two wonderful characters Thing 1 and Thing 2.

Despite Mrs T’s disapproval Thing 1 and Thing 2 are my new nicknames for my own tiny tag team of terror. Of course, they don’t answer to them!