Bureaucratic battle leaves veteran outback butcher contemplating closing his doors

Bureaucratic battle leaves veteran outback butcher contemplating closing his doors
  1. Bureaucratic battle leaves veteran outback butcher contemplating closing his doors
    The last remaining butcher for nearly 700km of outback Western Australia says a prohibition order from his local shire could see him close his…
    Western Australia
ABC Goldfields By Jarrod Lucas and Sam Tomlin An elderly man stands behind a fold-down counter in an old-style butcher in Leonora, Western Australia Photo: Neil Biggs says a clean-up has made no difference to council. (Supplied: Colleen O'Reilly)

A long-running battle over the cleanliness of his shop has left a veteran outback butcher contemplating hanging up his knives.

Neil Biggs is the only butcher along the 670km of road between Kalgoorlie-Boulder and Mount Magnet in Western Australia.

The 79-year-old has been the butcher in Leonora, 240km north of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, for half a century, as well as running the town's airport and playing a prominent role at the local racing club.

But an ongoing battle with the local shire over food safety standards could see him close his doors.

The dispute has seen the Shire of Leonora threaten to hit Mr Biggs with a prohibition order, preventing him from preparing food on the premises.

"They haven't given it to me yet," Mr Biggs said.

"But if that's the way they're going to go, I'll have to walk out."

The closure would leave residents with a two-hour drive to Kalgoorlie-Boulder for their nearest source of fresh meat.

Butcher not meeting required standards: health inspector

In a report prepared for councillors, Shire of Leonora environmental health and building officer David Hadden said Mr Biggs had ignored multiple warnings from the council.

"My last visit on April 21 contributed to my impression the proprietor was indifferent to any effort to encourage serious improvement to food safety and food hygiene/cleanliness," Mr Hadden said.

"Shire records show that all matters in this report were similarly mentioned in correspondence to the Leonora Butchers going back to the 1980s."

Mr Hadden identified the lack of a proper cleaning regime, the need for the freezer door and its seal to be thoroughly cleaned and repainted and an internal door needing painting and fitting with a door handle as key breaches.

In a letter sent to Mr Biggs, Mr Hadden expressed frustration at the butcher's response.

"You still did not accept the gravity of the situation, as you have not adequately cleaned, sanitised and deodorised the premises as previously requested on a number of occasions," he said.