A BRADFORD take-away did not have any running water in the sink of its staff toilets for several weeks, a court heard.
And the owner of the pizza grill had been banned from running a food business at the time of the hygiene inspection.
Raja Faisal Aziz was ordered to pay almost £2,000 after pleading guilty to food hygiene charges at Bradford and Keighley Magistrates’ Court on Thursday 16 March.
He was the owner of take away Raja’s Pizza Bar on Oak Lane in Manningham in early 2021 when inspectors from Bradford Council visited the business – but the court heard he is no longer involved in the food industry.
They found the sink in the staff toilet was not working, that the floor was filthy and that a lack of hot water in the kitchen basin meant staff had to heat up water using a pan and hob to wash dishes.
Aziz, 46, pleaded guilty to two charges at court – of breaching a food hygiene prohibition order and a breach of a hygiene improvement notice in early 2021.
The court was told that the inspections followed a “bad year” for Aziz in 2020, and that any punishment doled out by magistrates would be “less than he has been through in his personal circumstances.”
Ruksana Kosser, prosecuting on behalf of Bradford Council, said: “The investigation goes back to 7 January, 2021 when two officers attended Raja’s Pizza Grill at 107 Oak Lane for a routine hygiene inspection.
“They found there was no hot water in the wash basin in the kitchen, and were informed by staff that the boiler had broken and they were waiting for a plumber.
“All the hot water for cleaning in the kitchen was provided by a pan on a cooking range.
“The kitchen floor was poorly maintained and there was an accumulation of dirt.
“The wall above the sink in the basement was poorly maintained and there was a hole in the plasterwork.
“On entering the basement staff told officers there was no hot or cold water available for staff to wash their hands after using the toilet.
“The Council served a hygiene improvement notice that required hot water within a short time frame.”
When officers re-visited on 11 January they found there was still no hot or cold water in the toilet hand basin, and the floor and wall had not been dealt with.
Numerous follow up visits were made, and the work had not been done.
On a visit on 18 March there was still improvement work outstanding.
Aziz was interviewed and confirmed he was the sole director of Blue Band Food ltd – the company that then ran the take away.
Ms Kosser said: “He blamed the plumber for not attending and agreed to carry out the repairs.
“He said he was suffering from depression, and it was his staff’s responsibility to clean the business, and he had shown them how.
“He apportioned blame to his staff.”
She pointed out that in 2019 he had been given a hygiene prohibition order – effectively banning him from operating any food business, after issues at another branch of Raja’s Pizza.
The court heard he had previous convictions dating back to 2012, including failing to comply with hygiene improvement notices and for a rat infestation.
The case cost the Council £2,388 to investigate and bring to court.
Jabran Hussain, defending Aziz, said: “He is 46 and in relation to his history – he has had ups and downs, with more downs than ups.
“He was given a prohibition order in March 2019. He came to the UK in 2007 and doesn’t understand court proceedings – he thought the order was only in place for a year.
“2020 was a bad year for everyone but more-so for Mr Aziz.”
He said he had split from his wife and suffered depression. Mr Hussain said: “He then found out that he was no longer able to run a food business and is no longer in the food trade. He is currently on Universal Credit.
“Everything that could go wrong for him has gone wrong. He has been punished by life. Any punishment the court gives him will be less than what he has been through in his personal circumstances.”
Magistrates fined Aziz £352 and ordered him to pay £1,600 costs.