Cllr. Clyde Loakes and food standards: Waltham Forest revealed to be London’s least hygienic borough when it comes to visiting eateries, pubs, and supermarkets

Every now and again, Cllr. Clyde Loakes, the relevant Cabinet portfolio holder, pops up in local media, and assures residents that LBWF is taking food hygiene very seriously.

Thus, earlier this year, when LBWF closed three restaurants down, he opined

‘“This sends a very clear signal to that small minority of food businesses which think they can flout the law…We want residents in Waltham Forest to be able to order their food with confidence that it has been prepared in a safe and clean environment. There is no excuse for standards to drop and I hope that restaurant owners and their suppliers pay attention to these orders and costs. I’m pleased to say that most of our takeaways and restaurants know what is required and what their customers expect.”’

The impression given is that Cllr. Loakes is leading a tough and effective campaign to weed out miscreants.

However, a new study by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) suggests that, whatever Cllr. Loakes is doing, it’s not nearly enough.

For when the FSA looked at the food hygiene ratings given to 62,000 businesses across 32 London boroughs including restaurants, pubs, cafes, takeaways, food vans, canteens and supermarkets, it found that, in the Evening Standard’s words, ‘Waltham Forest tops the list as London’s least hygienic borough for food’, with the league table of shame reading as follows:

1. Waltham Forest

2. Newham

3. Ealing

4. Enfield

5. Islington

6. Lambeth

7. Camden

8. Hounslow

9. Westminster

10. Kingston-Upon-Thames

Needless to say, Cllr. Loakes will no doubt retort that the wicked Tories have made such swinging cuts that effective policing of food outlets is impossible.

Yet that argument only goes so far. All local authorities are suffering budgetary pressures, but some are unarguably managing food hygiene better than others.

Moreover, if Cllr. Loakes and his Cabinet colleagues really are struggling to finance appropriate interventions, they could park the vanity projects and re-allocate the funding.

But that’s the problem with spin: like junk food, it becomes addictive.

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