Hotel owner prosecuted for serious fire safety breaches

The owner of a Widnes hotel has been sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for two years, for breaking fire safety laws.

William Scott Anthony Hanson, proprietor of the Maintop Hotel on Mersey Road, was also ordered to pay £5,000 in costs, undergo 35 days of rehabilitation and undertake 80 hours unpaid community work.

He appeared for sentencing at Liverpool Crown Court today (Thursday, April 28 2022) having previously pleaded guilty to nine counts of serious breaches of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO).

Warren Spencer, prosecuting, told the court that Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service inspecting officers found serious deficiencies and breaches of the FSO during an inspection on June 27, 2019. At the time, a number of guest bedrooms were being rented out and were occupied. The former public house has 10 guest bedrooms, a kitchenette, laundry and boiler room.

The deficiencies included:

  • no working fire alarm system to alert people to a fire breaking out

  • escape routes compromised due to missing fire doors

  • inappropriately maintained emergency lighting on escape routes

  • combustible materials being stored in escape routes

  • the absence of fire doors separating the kitchen from rooms used for sleeping

  • inadequate fire resistant 'compartmentation' to prevent the spread of smoke and fire

  • failure to maintain fire extinguishers

  • no emergency plan for guests

  • no fire risk assessment being carried out.

Such was the risk to occupants, inspecting officers immediately served Mr Hanson with a prohibition notice under Article 31 of the FSO, prohibiting the use of the premises for living and sleeping accommodation. The notice was accompanied by a schedule of works to make the premises safe before allowing people to stay.

The Service made a number of visits to check the notice was being complied with. On a visit on August 20 2020 four residents were found staying there, in breach of the notice.

Sentencing, His Honour Judge Garrett Byrne said that Mr Hanson had put “profit before safety” and had put people at risk of serious injury or death. He described Mr Hanson’s failure to comply with the prohibition notice as “cynical” and “flagrant”.

Lee Shears, Head of Prevention and Protection at Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service 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 Maintop 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."

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service has a dedicated protection and business safety team that offers advice and support to businesses to enable them to operate safely. To find out more visit Business Safety.

Last updated: Thursday 28 April 2022

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