A worker paid £50 a week to sleep in the corner of the staff room for a year (credit: Google Maps)
Council enforcement officers reportedly found staff not wearing masks during a routine visit to Heathway Cash & Carry on Saturday, 13 February.
They noted the shop was “appallingly dirty” and the back of the store was even worse as bags of rubbish, cigarette butts and discarded chicken wings were scattered along the floor.
Officers also saw evidence a blowtorch had been used over the wooden floor and fire exits were completely blocked by stacked boxes.
The most shocking discovery was that rooms attached to the warehouse were being used as lodgings for workers.
One person reportedly told officers he pays £50 a week in rent for a bed in the corner of the staff room, which comes straight from his wages.
He also claimed he had been living there for a year and shares the room with one other worker who sleeps on the sofa.
Three further rooms were also being used as bedsits for people.
On Friday, 19 February, officers issued the store with a direction notice to close for a minimum of seven days, which can be extended to 14 days, as the current issues pose a serious risk to public health.
The store will only be allowed to reopen once staff are wearing face coverings and the business is not being used for residential purposes. It must also be operating in a “Covid secure way”.
“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,” said Councillor Margaret Mullane.
“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.”
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