Investigation after Portchester pub gets zero food rank

Alex Jeffery at The Seagull in Portchester
Alex Jeffery at The Seagull in Portchester
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AFTER a pub received a zero for food hygiene, a council is investigating the establishment further.

The Seagull at Portchester was given a zero rating in an inspection last month by Fareham Borough Council.

But pub manager Alex Jeffery has vowed to improve his ratings.

When asked by The News, the council refused to reveal the full environmental health officer’s report under Section 30(1)(b) for exemption.

The response stated: ‘As Section 30 is a qualified exemption the council must undertake a public interest test, giving consideration to the factors in favour of providing the information and the factors in favour of withholding the requested information.’

The council found no reasons in favour of disclosure.

The factors in favour of withholding were: ‘Right to consider the investigation in a safe space – the council believes its officers should be able to consider the information gathered to make a non-prejudicial and informed decision without external pressures such as heightened media attention.

‘Right to a fair trial – the council believes that if it were to launch a prosecution based on the evidence presented within the report, this would prejudice the trial if the evidence on which it was relying, had been previously released in the media or other sources.’

A Fareham council spokesperson confirmed to The News environmental health officers were investigating.

The maximum penalty for a breach of food hygiene and food safety regulations is an unlimited fine or two years in prison.

Mr Jeffery said: ‘We fully recognise the standards expected were not adhered to when the environmental health officer visited due to some external building repairs, therefore we voluntarily closed the pub to conduct a thorough clean and external repairs.’

Mr Jeffery has managed the pub, part of Greene King’s Hungry Horse brand, for three years. It was marked generally satisfactory for hygienic handling of food, needed urgent improvement for the cleanliness and condition of facilities and building, and major improvement necessary for managing food safety.

Since the inspection, Mr Jeffery and his team have been working to revamp their restaurant. He said: ‘We have conducted refresher training for all team members to ensure hygiene standards are excellent and have conducted a comprehensive overhaul of hygiene procedures.

‘We have also completed the external building repairs.’

Many customers have shared positive experiences of the pub on social media.

He added: ‘It’s been great to hear from guests who support the pub and we would like to reassure all guests we are continuing to work hard to ensure we meet the high standards expected of the business.’