A PETITION has been launched calling for a Costa Coffee drive-thru to be shut down and refund the public the money used to buy it by the council, after it was rated as one for its hygiene.

Alan Hird has launched the petition on Change.org labelling the decision by Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council in 2013 to spend almost £800,000 buying Costa at Basingstoke Leisure Park “a blatant abuse of council taxpayers’ money”.

He added: “In the light of food standards agency concerns this drive through at the Basingstoke Leisure Park should be shut down and full council tax reimbursement ensued, because this drive through coffee shop was opened undemocratically against a previous petition.”

As reported in the Gazette, the Costa drive-thru has been given a one out of five for its hygiene following an inspection on October 22.

A borough council inspector said ‘major improvement’ is needed for the management of food safety, and improvements are also needed for hygienic food handling, and cleanliness and condition of the facilities and building.

The council faced criticism when it decided to buy the Costa in 2013 which saw £786,000 of taxpayers’ money spent on the new development.

The decision was made by members of the council’s Cabinet who unanimously agreed to release money from the council’s Invest to Grow reserve to buy the land and restaurant building next to Airkix’s £6m indoor skydiving centre.

It said it will receive £64,000 per year in rent. The council claimed the investment would be paid off after 12 years.

The coffee shop was leased for 25 years with an option to break the lease after a minimum of 15 years.

Council leaders estimated the investment would generate a minimum 9.3 per cent return over a 20-year period.

So far, no one has signed the petition other than Alan.

A spokesperson for Costa said: “Costa Coffee takes all EHO [environmental health officer] ratings extremely seriously and were disappointed and concerned with the rating given to our drive-thru in Worting Road, Basingstoke.

“Following the inspection, we have taken immediate action to rectify all concerns, including closing the store for a deep clean, completing all maintenance repairs and retraining team members. We are awaiting a follow up visit and inspection, which we are confident will find the store to be, once again, operating to a high standard of cleaning and hygiene.”

Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council said its environmental health team is working with Costa to rectify the deficiencies found during the inspection.

It refused to release the full inspection report because “the premises is the subject of an ongoing legal investigation”.

It added: “Until enforcement activity is concluded this information is exempt from disclosure.”

The Costa drive-thru must keep its current rating for a minimum of three months before it can reapply for a re-rating visit.