Food Hygiene Ratings Not Much Different

Every once in a while we look at the Food Hygiene ratings for food and drink premises in Rochford District.

Last September there were two premises with zero stars, and five with only one star. Now there is only a single place without stars (“urgent improvement necessary”) and seven with one star (“major improvement necessary”).

Find out where these places are here.

Two Food Premises On Zero

We haven’t reported on the local food hygiene ratings lately, – you can find them on the Food Standards Agency website here.

Out of the 418 premises in Rochford District, there are currently two places with zero stars out of five, and seven places with just one star.

Meanwhile a Labour MP has suggested that food premises should be required by law to show their ratings. :

“Betts called the food inspection service “one of the unsung services of local government” – a service the public doesn’t usually notice, but would “suddenly become aware [of] if they weren’t there”.

“There is a worry with cuts to local authorities and budgets, food inspection is one of the areas that has been hit the hardest, so it’s important that what work they do do gets results,” he said.

Cuts to local government funding have meant the number of food inspectors has declined in recent years. The ratio of food safety inspectors to businesses has dropped from 4.2 full-time inspectors per 1,000 food businesses in 2012-13, to 3.7 per 1,000 in 2014-15. This figure is dragged down considerably by England, where there are only 3.2 officers per 1,000 businesses, compared with 5.7 per 1,000 in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Betts said that as well as being effective, a mandatory display scheme was likely to be cost-effective.

“The inspections are done, so there’s no extra cost to the local authority and there’s no cost to the business of sticking something in the window,” he said.”

Big Budget Meeting Next Week.

The District Council has a big budget next Tuesday 9th February, at 7:30. We received the agenda today, so there’s a lot of reading to do, and we will write in more detail later. But two things immediately stand out in the proposals from the Conservative administration:

  • District Council Tax is proposed to rise by 1.93%
  • It is proposed that some car park charges will rise. For example the 1/2 hour charge in the main shopping car parks will rise from 50p to 60p, and the 1 hour charge from 1.00 to 1.20. Saturday afternoons will stay free. However charges will continue in weekday evenings until 9 pm (instead of 7 pm at present). This could have an impact on restaurants and take-aways…
  • As we said above, we will write more late. George Osbourne is giving councils a very hard time at the moment…

    “We’re Now Spoiled For Choice”

    Pizza Express have invited Rayleigh food blogger Gary Fenn to review their new Rayleigh restaurant – and you can read his review here.
    Gary begins his review with an interesting overlook of how the Town Centre has changed in recent years:

    My home town of Rayleigh has undergone a huge transformation in the past five years. It suffered the same stagnation that ran across most of the suburban high streets of England in the 2000s as the recession bit. In 2010 restaurant after restaurant opened up and now the high street heaves with people of an evening. Were now spoiled for choice, not only by chains such as Ask and Prezzo, but wonderful independents such as Marcos and Panchos. In December 2015 theyve been joined by Pizza Express. The announcement caused a local stir, as it was to be sited in not just any old building, but in the oldest secular building in Rayleigh. With some concession, it went ahead with space allocated to the upper floor for a Rayleigh museum….

    It’s not hard to find Rayleigh people complaining that there are now too many restaurants , cafes and barbers, but not enough actual shops. And they have a point. You also wonder if all these restaurants can stay viable. But if you talk to people in their 20s and 30s living elsewhere in south Essex, Rayleigh is a place that they aspire to move to – and that’s partly because the array of restaurants and cafes make the town seem very attractive. Could this also work for the type of small company that has to entertain clients for lunch – will we see more planning applications for offices in the town centre soon?

    Why Does Rochford Have As Many Places With Zero Hygiene Ratings As Southend, Basildon And Castle Point Put Together?

    Back last February we wrote about the food hygiene ratings for restaurants, cafes etc in our district. At that time there was only one premises in our district with a food hygiene rating of zero out of five.

    But if you look now at the Food Standards Agency website you will see there are now eleven premises in Rochford district with a zero rating – meaning ‘urgent improvement necessary’. There are another eighteen with a one rating – meaning “major improvement necessary”.

    By comparison, there are only four zero rated premises in Southend.
    There are only three in Basildon.
    There are four in Castle Point.

    So Rochford has as many places with zero hygiene ratings as Southend, Basildon and Castle Point put together! Is that because hygiene levels are really lower at these places, or are the inspections here tougher?

    An Attractive Italian…

    From the Rayleigh food blog Big Spud an attractive Italian dish rich sausage pappardelle:

    The sausages make or break this one buy the best you can get hold of. I had some lovely herby Toulouse (not very Italian I grant you) but anything spiked with lots of flavours would be perfect here. I like those Italian style sausages you can get from delis, punched up with fennel and rosemary which Ive tried to ape here.

    Michael Hoy Tries To Prevent Rayleigh Being Saturated With Drinking Places

    Well done to Cllr Michael Hoy for trying to improve the District Council’ licensing policy:

    That was the only change to the policy and Im pleased to say that a cumulative impact policy (saturation) is being included in the document. This means that any new applicant within the area (Rayleigh) will have to demonstrate that the new license will not add to existing problems.

    New Planning Application In Rayleigh High Street

    There’s a new planning application that’s recently come in. It’s for 57 to 61 High Street Rayleigh, which we think includes Santander Bank, New Look and Elliott and Smith, the new estate agents. You can find the application on the council website here.

    The application is described as:

    Shopfront Alterations , Erection of First Floor Corridor and Change of Use From A2 (Bank) to A3 (Restaurant)

    We’ve haven’t checked with officers on this but the documents indicate a change from a mix of banking and retail to a mix of retail and restaurants:

    santander 2

    santander 1

    Home Made Pork Pie


    You may have eaten a pork pie hundreds of times (and in Rayleigh Byfords bacon-topped pork pies are especially good). But have you ever made one?

    Big Spud – the food blog from Rayleigh – has a recipe here.

    Its a little shambolic round the edges but its a lot of fun to make. I hadnt made hot water pastry before and it spits with volcanic fury so be careful, but it is quite manageable.