Five-star Sunderland sandwich shop in hot water

Staff Tracey Morton (left) and Michelle Clark at Ells Kitchen in Whitehall Terrace, Hylton Road, Sunderland.

Staff Tracey Morton (left) and Michelle Clark at Ells Kitchen in Whitehall Terrace, Hylton Road, Sunderland.

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A SANDWICH shop got top marks from environmental health inspectors – despite not having permission to sell food.

Sunderland Council officers who visited Ell’s Kitchen, in Hylton Road, gave it five stars out of five for hygiene.

The authority also displayed the result on the Scores on the Doors section of its website.

However, the inspectors visited three times and did not spot the business had been running for two-and-a-half years without permission to sell hot food.

Shop owner Raymond Peggie bought Ell’s Kitchen in 2008.

The businessman said he was under the impression that the previous owner had secured the appropriate licence as it was already selling food, and because he was allowed to trade normally with no questions asked, despite council health inspections.

“The bit I can’t understand is that we had them visit us and everything seemed in order,” he said.

“I make sure that everything is done properly and we are all up-to-date with everything.

“That was one of the reasons we got five stars.”

Mr Peggie has now submitted his retrospective planning application for a change of use for the shop, after the council spotted and raised the issue in June.

“We are waiting for the council now to get back to us,” he said. “It’s in their hands now.”

Mr Peggie said the sandwich shop has been a huge success in the area since it opened.

“We get a big clientele from the hospital and we’ve had orders put in from Nissan as well due to recommendations.”

He hopes that the issue will be resolved swiftly.

“I just want to get this all sorted out.”

Keith Lowes, head of planning and environment at Sunderland City Council, said: “Any premises which serves food is subject to an inspection by environmental health officers.

“Their role is to ensure the premises is clean and that all food hygiene guidelines are being strictly adhered to, but they do not have any involvement in planning permissions.

“Mr Peggie has submitted a planning application for change of use of premises from retail to a hot food takeaway.

“This is a retrospective application and is currently being considered.

“A decision will be made by October 12, 2011.

“It would be inappropriate to comment any further while the application is being considered.”

Twitter: @sunderlandecho