By Mike Brown, gazettelive.co.uk
Charges brought by a council against a controversial slaughterhouse at the centre of bitter protests from locals have been dropped in court today.
Banaras Halal Meats had denied taking deliveries of livestock at the Boosbeck High Street abattoir outside the hours specified in a planning condition with Redcar and Cleveland Council.
The authority had taken the firm to court for failing to comply with the notice on December 22, 2014 – but ahead of a scheduled day-long trial at Teesside Magistrates’ Court Nicola Allan, representing the council, offered no evidence.
Company director Nahim Banaras was in court to hear District Judge Kristina Harrison dismiss the charges against the company.
A joint statement issued on behalf of Redcar and Cleveland Council and Banaras Halal Meats said: “In the proceedings in the Teesside Magistrates’ Court on 25 August the council offered no evidence and the charge against Banaras Halal Meats (BHM) was dismissed.
“The parties considered that it would be more productive to address any issues between the parties outside of the context of court proceedings.
“In this regard a meeting shall take place between officers of the council and representatives of BHM to seek to agree procedures in relation to deliveries of livestock to the premises.
“The parties wish to move positively forwards and it is hoped that the reaching of an agreement in relation to these procedures will further that objective.”
The firm’s £3m slaughterhouse has faced major opposition from villagers after plans were unveiled in 2011 to revive the dormant facility.
Despite a two-year court battle, the site began operating in February 2013.
The council’s decision to bring legal charges was announced by the council’s then Cabinet member for environment and rural affairs, Councillor Barry Hunt, at a full council meeting in April.
Dozens of villagers have regularly attended council meetings to urge the authority to take action after claiming they suffer from unacceptable bad smells, noise and traffic.
Dismissing the charges today, District Judge Harrison said: “I can understand the concerns of the people of Boosbeck.
“The problem is this court can do nothing about it and a higher court could do nothing about it.
“They are unfortunately stuck with the abattoir in that location until they decide to move.
“I think people have got to find some way of working together.”
During a full council meeting last month, the authority pledged to employ a new, dedicated environmental health officer to increase monitoring at the site.
That came after unpopular proposals to invest up to £100,000 to help improve operations at the abattoir were scrapped.
Banaras Halal Meats faces a separate trial in November after being charged by the national food watchdog the Food Standards Agency.
The company has been charged with five counts of possessing for sale for human consumption a specified risk material, or food containing a specified risk material.
This relates to a case in which a sheep aged more than 12 months did not have its spinal cord removed at the slaughterhouse as soon as was reasonably practicable after slaughter.
It also faces two counts of contravening or failing to comply with EU provision concerning food safety and hygiene on November 26 last year.
It was also charged with two counts of failing to comply with a remedial action notice, on the same date, relating to preventing sheep carcasses from coming into contact with skin and fleece.
The notice aims to stop the spread of contamination from meat touching straw and debris left on the fleece.