News Walthamstow

Primary school fined £50,000 over kitchen mice infestation

A chef reportedly told food hygiene inspectors the school had known for months about the infestation
By Local Democracy Reporter Josh Mellor

St Saviour's CoE Primary School (credit: Google Streetview)
St Saviour’s CoE Primary School (credit: Google Streetview)

A Walthamstow primary school that failed to deal with a mouse infestation in its kitchen has been fined £50,000.

Food hygiene inspectors from Waltham Forest Council found “ingrained dirt and mouse droppings” in the kitchen of St Saviour’s Church of England in Verulam Avenue during a visit in October 2020.

The inspectors found mouse droppings on the floor, inside machinery and on a shelf, while a chef working in the kitchen told them the school had not taken action for four months.

Representatives of Genesis Education Trust, which runs St Saviour’s, appeared at Thames Magistrates’ Court today to be sentenced for failing to comply with food and safety hygiene regulations after pleading guilty in August.

Mouse droppings in the kitchen (credit: WF Council)

Magistrates’ bench chair Reverend Abraham Lawrence said a member of the school’s office “was aware” of issues with mice in the kitchen.

Mr Lawrence ordered Genesis to pay a £50,000 fine and £4,109.50 in prosecution costs and victim surcharge.

This story is published by Waltham Forest Echo, Waltham Forest's free monthly newspaper and free news website. We are a not-for-profit publication, published by a small social enterprise. We have no rich backers and rely on the support of our readers. Donate or become a supporter.

The magistrates placed the food safety failings in the highest sentencing category due to the duty of care the school owes its three to eleven-year-old children, the risk to the “352 plus staff” and the school’s knowledge that “something was going wrong”.

Mr Lawrence added: “We find that there was knowledge, a member of the school team was at least aware that something was going wrong.

“We also noticed that the school office was informed, there was also knowledge at management level.”

Dirt and droppings in the kitchen (credit: WF Council)

The school agreed to pay the fine in instalments of £4,000 for the next 13 months.

The school’s caterer The Pantry UK admitted breaching food safety regulations for the mouse infestation in August and was previously ordered to pay £41,478 in fines and costs.

At that hearing, The Pantry’s head of operations Anthony Swaby told magistrates the infestation was “terrible” but that the company had “accepted responsibility”.

He added: “It is worth saying the concerns were reported [to Genesis] and not actioned.

“The responsibility of the pest control is contractually not The Pantry’s responsibility, but we should have highlighted it at the time, there’s nothing much to say to excuse that.”

Genesis is an “independent church multi-academy trust” that also manages St Mary’s Primary School, Walthamstow, and St Margaret’s, Barking.

No news is bad news 

Independent news outlets like ours – reporting for the community without rich backers – are under threat of closure, turning British towns into news deserts. 

The audiences they serve know less, understand less, and can do less. 

In celebration of Indie News Week, Public Interest News Foundation's Indie News Fund will match fund all donations, including new annual supporter subscriptions for the month of June.

If our coverage has helped you understand our community a little bit better, please consider supporting us with a monthly, yearly or one-off donation. 

Choose the news. Don’t lose the news.

Monthly direct debit 

Annual direct debit

£5 per month supporters get a digital copy of each month’s paper before anyone else, £10 per month supporters get a digital copy of each month’s paper before anyone else and a print copy posted to them each month.  £50 annual supporters get a digital copy of each month's paper before anyone else.

Donate now with Pay Pal

More information on supporting us monthly or annually 

More Information about donations