An operator of a fish and chip shop in Hemel Hempstead has been fined £12,000 for food safety and hygiene breaches.

Thangarajah Nesarajah, who runs The Lemon Plaice in Bellgate, pleaded guilty to 11 charges relating to various breaches of the Food Safety and Hygiene Regulations after appearing at St Albans Magistrates' Court on Wednesday, October 25.

The 56-year-old was fined £5,000, and ordered him to pay prosecution costs of £5,000 and a victim surcharge of £2,000.

The main charge related to the failure to ensure adequate procedures were in place to control pests, with court documents revealing pest control failures were "evidenced by pigeon faeces, feathers, and skin found throughout the premises".

The other charges related to the failure to clean and maintain the condition of the premises, failure to comply with a Hygiene Improvement Notice served and failure to put in place, implement, and maintain a permanent procedure or procedures based on the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point principles.

Dacorum Borough Council, who gave the chippy a one star hygiene rating back in January, shared a photo of the "dirty" potato chips preparation area at the Bellgate site.

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"We're committed to ensuring food standards remain high throughout Dacorum to safeguard our residents and visitors," said Councillor Robin Bromham, portfolio holder for neighbourhood operations at Dacorum Borough Council.

"We won't hesitate to use the full range of regulatory interventions available to us when tackling high-risk, illegal or poor performing food businesses.

"Given the severity of the conditions in this particular case, both our Environmental Health and Legal teams did an excellent job intervening and bringing about a successful prosecution.

"This prevented any members of the public from becoming extremely ill or, worse still, losing their lives."

Emma Walker, Dacorum Borough Council's group manager for environmental and community protection, added: "Our officers work tirelessly conducting inspections to ensure that premises are complying with the required regulations.

"We take a strict approach in cases like this in line with our enforcement policy and, as shown, will send cases to court, if necessary."