Belsize Park pub’s �1,600 bill over mice infestation

A HAMPSTEAD pub which is a favourite with football fans and hospital staff has been slapped with a �1,600 bill for being infested with mice.

The George Pub on Haverstock Hill, next door to the Royal Free, was shut down earlier this month after Camden Council health and safety officers found it was over-run by rodents.

Inspectors described the infestation as “severe and chronic” and described the bar, which serves food and drink, as “an imminent risk to public health”.

The pub re-opened last week after officers said they were satisfied the mouse problem had been dealt with. But the venue was still ordered to pay �1,600 in costs to Camden Council at a hearing at Highbury Magistrates Court last Thursday.

Richard Maxwell, a Belsize resident and a regular at the pub, said he was disgusted at the thought of mice scampering around while he was enjoying a pint.

He said: “It’s a good pub to watch the football in, but having mice will certainly put me off. I wouldn’t go again until they get the mice sorted out.”

Hampstead councillor Linda Chung was also shocked by The George’s poor hygiene standards and said she hoped they never sunk so low again.

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“It’s horrifying that this popular pub should prove to merit an emergency hygiene closure order,” she said. “The public trust that all food served from any establishment should be prepared under the best hygiene conditions and not be under fear that it’s a health risk.

“I hope the pub will not only take the legal action seriously but more importantly will overhaul its premises and kitchens so there is no question of the public being put in danger of food poisoning again.”

But one loyal customer, Roger Montgomery, said he would still go to the pub to watch his favourite football teams regardless of the rodent reports.

He said: “Most of the pubs around here are gastro pubs and have taken out their TV screens. So it’s the only place that you can go to watch football. I’m surprised, but you can have mice anywhere.

“The days of the plague are over. What they should do is get a cat – all pubs used to have cats.”

A Punch Pub Company spokeswoman said: “As a responsible operator, our priority is to ensure that we always deliver a high quality experience. We have comprehensive health and safety processes in place in all of our pubs to ensure the highest standards.

“The issue at the George was completely isolated and subsequent action has been taken to address the problem and ensure there is no repeat. We have apologised and would like to stress that it is not representative of our commitment to our customers and the high standards delivered by our pub teams, all day, every day.”