Suffolk businessman Richard Cattermole and company ordered to pay more than £44,000 after catalogue of health and hygiene risks at Needham Market’s Limes Hotel, court rules

The Limes Hotel in Needham Market.

The Limes Hotel in Needham Market. - Credit: Su Anderson

A well-known Suffolk businessman and a company will have to pay more than £44,000 after they were found to have acted “recklessly” in maintaining hygiene standards at a hotel, a court has ruled.

Richard Cattermole leaving West Suffolk Magistrates' Court in Bury St Edmunds

Richard Cattermole leaving West Suffolk Magistrates' Court in Bury St Edmunds - Credit: Gregg Brown

Richard Cattermole, 70, of Westerfield Road, Ipswich, appeared before West Suffolk Magistates’ Court yesterday over seven charges relating to the cleanliness of the Limes Hotel in Needham Market which he owns.

Waterhand Ltd, a company his wife, Judith, 62, is a director of, was charged eight times. But evidence against Mrs Cattermole, who was due to face charges herself as an individual, were dropped. Guilty pleas were entered for Richard Cattermole and Waterhand.

Food safety officers arrived unannounced at the hotel following a complaint from a neighbour on October 24, 2013, the court heard.

The officers from Mid Suffolk District Council found the hotel’s kitchen drain to be “blocked” meaning there were “no facilities to wash hands, food, or clean equipment or utensils”.

Food inspectors found a bottle of vinegar which was 28C

Food inspectors found a bottle of vinegar which was 28C - Credit: Archant


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David Armstrong, prosecuting for the council, said that meant the dishwasher was also unavailable.

In mitigation, Darren Snow, for Cattermole and Waterhand, said the day-to-day management of the hotel was the responsibility of senior managers and not Cattermole who would “float in and out of the business”.

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Mr Armstrong said: “There was a dirty extractor fan, dirty fly screen, dirty corridors, dirty and rusty racks in the kitchen, damage to a freezer so it could not be hygienically cleaned, pipe work wrapped in tea towels, cupboards not closed and open to air,” he said.

“There was a general lack of cleaning, spillage of flour on shelves, food debris found in the kitchen, equipment connected with food included a baking tray which was found to be dirty and a tin opener.

Food inspectors found a bottle of vinegar which was 28C

Food inspectors found a bottle of vinegar which was 28C - Credit: Archant

“Dirty chopping boards, a particular concern regards to cross contamination of food, cutlery stored in dirty trays because of food spillages, equipment left on floor which was dirty, crockery in food trays which were dirty with food debris and lined with unclean tea towels.”

A food safety chart was falsely filled in, claiming that “clear as you go” cleaning had been taking place, the court heard.

Mr Armstrong said hotel staff had complained about the working environment in the kitchen – with temperature a key concern. The food inspectors tested a bottle of vinegar and found it to be as hot as 28C (82F).

“There were dangerously high levels of CO2 present to the point that the range cooker in the kitchen had to be disconnected in order to reduce the dangerous levels of CO2,” he said.

Food inspectors found a bottle of vinegar which was 28C

Food inspectors found a bottle of vinegar which was 28C - Credit: Archant

He added as the “totality of conditions were so poor” the risk of harm to customers and staff was “very high”.

Mr Snow said Cattermole, who has run the hotel for 25 years, had no previous convictions and that “no harm” was caused to customers or staff.

“In reality of the business at this time, Mr Cattermole was seen as the big boss and that’s why he has pleaded guilty,” he said. “In reality he was the financier of the business, signing the cheques.”

Mr Snow said that £21,000 had been spent specifically on the kitchen since then as it was recognised that “significant refurbishment” was needed. In 2013, £249,471 was spent on refreshing the hotel which left it with an operating loss in that year of £114,173, the court heard.

The court fined Cattermole a total of £10,800, with £3,432.40 in costs. Waterhand was fined £24,150, with costs of £6,000.

Lead magistrate, Mrs Lawrence, said: “With regard to all the offences for Mr Cattermole and Waterhand Ltd – they acted recklessly in failure to properly manage the business.”

She accepted that “no harm” was caused but there had been potential for “serious harm” to customers and staff.

Cattermole, who used to run up to 26 hotels across the country, now owns the Limes Hotel and The Orwell Hotel in Felixstowe.

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