No end to Rainham’s rotting fish stink despite owners’ appeal fail

Fire damage at the factory

Fire damage at the factory - Credit: Archant

The owners of a burned-out factory filled with £1million worth of stinking, rotting fish have failed in their appeal against an abatement notice – but there is still no end to residents’ misery.

Leszek Rytych with his fly traps

Leszek Rytych with his fly traps - Credit: Archant

Havering Council confirmed the appeal papers were not handed into Barkingside Magistrates’ Court on time and therefore it will not be heard.

But residents cannot take the pegs off their noses just yet, because the authority needs fresh proof of the pong.

As the notice concerning the “absolutely putrid” smell was served more than two months ago, the authority must gather evidence it still exists and have asked residents to call them when it comes back.

But office hours for the number given are 9am-5pm, and any calls outside then aren’t answered.

Angry residents outside the fire damaged plant

Angry residents outside the fire damaged plant - Credit: Archant

To make matters worse, even with proof, the council cannot get rid of the fish, because no-one is allowed in the building.

The authority would either have to begin a lengthy process to get the building demolished, cover it with protective sheets or use extra-strength air fresheners.

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“It’s ridiculous,” said Anita Holtom, 66, who has lived in the adjacent Wennington Road for 26 years. “We still can’t open our windows because of the flies. And now there’s loads of swallows hovering too. Our next concern is rats.

“We feel let down by the council and the owners have got away with it. Sometimes we get the smell in the morning but we just get an out of office message when we call.”

“£1million worth” of fish has been rotting in the factory for more than three months, since a huge pallet yard fire forced Shapla Frozen Foods Ltd to vacate its business unit in July. The electrics for the whole site were disconnected but the fish, crustaceans and molluscs it sold weren’t cleared out.

The blaze, which came two days after a man in his 30s died at the site, damaged workshops, two cottages and a flat. It took more than 80 firefighters to extinguish it.

Cllr Osman Dervish, cabinet member for regulatory services, said residents have been asked to fill in diary sheets so the council can decide whether to take more action.