Cheshire Hotelier Fined £5000 and Sentenced to 12 Months in Prison after Fire Safety Breaches

The owner of the Main Top Hotel on Mersey Road in West Bank, Widnes, was sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court on 28 April after pleading guilty to nine breaches of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

William Scott Anthony Hanson, of Cooper Street, Widnes, was brought charges after being served a Prohibition Notice following an inspection in June 2019, which Hanson did not comply with.

When Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS) officers undertook the initial inspection, they found evidence of serious deficiencies and breaches of the Fire Safety Order, including missing fire doors, no working fire alarm, emergency lighting not properly maintained, combustible materials stored in escape routes, and no fire doors separating the kitchen from guest bedrooms.
Fire compartmentation was also found to be inadequate, fire extinguishers were not properly maintained, and Hanson had not undertaken a fire risk assessment or made an emergency evacuation plan for the hotel.

READ: Is my hotel safe from fire? A guest’s perspective on concerns over hotel fire safety standards

The resulting Prohibition Notice from CFRS banned the Main Top from being used as accommodation until adequate steps had been taken to make the hotel safe. However, on a follow-up visit in August 2020, inspectors found four guests staying at the hotel, and conditions had not improved.

Judge Garrett Byrne said Hanson put “profit before safety”, and left customers at risk of serious injury or death, describing Hanson’s failure to comply with the prohibition notice as “cynical” and “flagrant”.

Hanson was sentenced to 12 months in prison and suspended for two years, for breaking fire safety laws. He was also ordered to pay £5,000 in costs, and complete 35 days of rehabilitation and 80 hours of unpaid work.

Lee Shears, CFRS’s Head of Prevention and Protection, said: “Fire safety is a key part of good business management and Mr Hanson showed little or no regard for the safety of the guests sleeping at the Main Top Hotel.

“This was compounded by the fact that he ignored the prohibition notice and failed to take our advice to make the premises safer. We always aim to help and support any business to operate safely, however this case shows that we will take action when fire safety responsibilities are not taken seriously.”

This article was originally published on the FPA website.

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