'Appallingly dirty' Dagenham shop doubling up as 'substandard' hotel
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A cash and carry in Dagenham has been closed after breaching Covid regulations - and running a 'hotel' out the back of the shop.
Heathway Cash & Carry, in Heathway, was found to be "appallingly dirty" when police visited it on February 13, with cigarette butts, bags of rubbish and even discarded chicken wings left lying around in the back of the store.
It had already received several warnings for flouting the rules before its latest inspection and staff were found not to be wearing face masks once again.
When officers and the council's enforcement team ventured into the back of the shop, they also found evidence of the use of a blowtorch over the wooden floor and fire exits completely blocked by stacked boxes.
Shockingly, they also discovered rooms attached to the warehouse which were being used as lodgings for workers.
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One lodger told police he pays £50 a week in rent for a bed in the corner of the staff room, which comes straight from his wages.
The man said he had been living there for a year and shares the room with one other worker, who sleeps on the sofa. Three other rooms were also identified as being used as bedsits for people.
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Councillor Margaret Mullane, Barking and Dagenham Council's cabinet member for enforcement and community safety, said: "Not only was this business continuously ignoring coronavirus regulations, but it was putting the health and safety of residents at risk through the utterly appalling conditions they were working and living in.
"Throughout the pandemic, we have made it clear that we won’t stand for businesses not following the rules and it’s completely unfair on those that are doing as they should."
The cash and carry was served with a notice to close for a minimum of 7 days from February 19, which can be extended by a further week.
The following measures must be met for the shop to be allowed to reopen, according to the council. That is that it:
1. Must be mandatory that all staff are wearing face coverings.
2. Ensure the businesses is not used for residential purposes
3. Ensure they are operating in a Covid secure way
A further inspection will take place to it implements these rules, as well as checking that the conditions of the business have improved.