Council bosses have vowed to build on ‘excellent’ hygiene work with their food enforcement plan for next year.
Hartlepool Council regeneration service committee said they will look to continue work which saw more than 99 per cent of business rated ‘generally compliant’ for their food hygiene standards last year.
This meant they received a rating of three or above and just six businesses fell below that level.
This is 7.3 per cent greater than six years ago when the scheme was introduced and 0.8 per cent greater than a year ago.
Sylvia Pinkley, public protection manager on the council, warned they would take harsh measure on any business not compliant with standards to continue to improve businesses.
She said: “If we find somewhere so bad we have the powers to close them down immediately.
“Sometimes we might take informal action by giving them an improvement notice.
“We do have really strong powers to improve business.”
Meanwhile 80 per cent of businesses were rated received the maximum rating of five, meaning it was rated ‘very good’ for its food hygiene.
This marks an increase from 77 per cent last year and just 59 per cent in 2012.
All visits were carried out while the businesses were trading and were carried out unannounced.
Cllr Kevin Cranney, chair of the regeneration services committee, praised the work of the plan last year, but raised concerns over how waste was disposed.
However council bosses confirmed they would look to encourage Northumbrian Water to implement and maintain grease traps in the drainage system to prevent the issues.
Cllr Cranney said: “It is excellent to see 80 per cent of businesses picking up five star ratings.
“My concern is about the potential disposal of waste damaging the infrastructure of drainage systems.
“If waste gets so bad it can cause rat infestations around houses.”
Ms Pinkley also assured the committee the council does work to prevent such issues.
The council also said it will be looking to continue its ‘takeaway project’ in the coming year, which encourages businesses to look at making food healthier.
It also aims to work with planning bosses to prevent the proliferation of takeaways.
Other programmes set to continue include the holiday hunger scheme which focuses on children who usually get free school meals, and the council’s allergy awareness campaign.
Cllr Jim Lindridge, who also sites on the committee, said: “These are good solid plans to increase standards everywhere.”
Nic Marko , Local Democracy Reporting Service