E.coli outbreak costs council tax payers £24,000

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Staff reporter

A MAJOR E.coli outbreak in Wrexham in 2009 has left council tax payers in Wrexham with a bill of more than £24,000.

And because the man who ran the food outlet where it started had no assets to pay costs and was uninsured there is no way of clawing back any of the money from him.

These shocking facts are revealed in a report on the outbreak due to be considered by councillors on Wednesday.

In July 2009, the council’s public protection team was notified of a number of cases of E.coli O157, a serious stomach bug that can be potentially fatal.

Young mum Karen Morrisroe, of Rhosnesni, almost died when she caught the bug and complications set in. She spent seven weeks in an induced coma as staff at Wrexham Maelor Hospital battled to save her life. She spent three months in hospital before being allowed home.

Three-year-old Abigail Hennessy, from Llay, was admitted to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool suffering from kidney failure but was discharged two weeks later after making a good recovery.

Ramazan Aslan, operator of the fish bar at that time, admitted six food hygiene offences brought by Wrexham Council, and at Mold Crown Court last month was sentenced to eight months in prison.

The fish bar has since re-opened under new management.

A report to be considered by the council’s environment and regeneration scrutiny committee says that although the council applied for costs against the defendant, none were awarded as he had no assets and public liability insurance.

This has left the authority with a legal bill totalling £24,300, including £10,000 for employing a barrister, the council’s own legal bill of £3,600 and £1,200 for expert witness reports.

The amount of extra work required to bring the case to court meant the council had to take on a contractor to reduce the backlog of routine food inspections, which left it with a bill of £9,500.

The council is now applying to the Food Standards Agency for funding it makes available to authorities having to deal with large and complex investigations.

The report also says that since April 2009, environmental health officers have taken a tougher stance on premises consistently failing to meet food safety requirements.

This has led to a cut of 34 per cent in the number of high risk premises in Wrexham.

See full story in the Leader

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