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Bicester equestrian yard owner fined over series of fire safety breaches

08 January 2024

THE OWNER of an equestrian yard in Bicester has been fined £5,000 for breaches of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 that put lives in danger. The case involving Isabelle Taylor was heard at Oxford Magistrates’ Court on 2 January.

Fire safety inspectors from Oxfordshire County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service visited the premises in October 2020, whereupon they found that the business owner – namely Miss Isabelle Taylor – had failed to ensure there was an adequate fire risk assessment in place, failed to protect escape routes in case of fire and also failed to provide a working fire alarm and detection system.

The equestrian yard was operating on the ground floor and had two flats provided for staff accommodation on the first floor.

Following a fire at the site, a fire safety audit was conducted under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. Inspectors found that the premises were so dangerous that they were left with no alternative but to prohibit the use of the building for sleeping purposes until safety measures were improved.

As a consequence, they ordered the immediate removal of the occupants of the flats on safety grounds by use of a Prohibition Notice such that the premises could not to be used for sleeping.

A further inspection was made of the premises in December 2022 by members of the team from Oxfordshire County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service. At that juncture, Taylor was found to be in breach of the Prohibition Notice on the basis that members of staff were still being allowed to sleep in the building, despite the Prohibition Notice being in place.

Four charges

Taylor appeared in court and was found guilty on four charges under the fire safety legislation. She received a conditional discharge for three of those charges, with a fine imposed of £5,000 for the remaining. Taylor was also ordered to pay a total of £4,969.50 in costs.

Councillor Dr Nathan Ley, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Safety, stated: “Our fire safety inspectors are finding an increasing number of businesses with sleeping accommodation where no fire safety measures have been implemented. Business owners have a legal duty to put fire safety measures in place. As this case demonstrates, we will not hesitate to take action to ensure the safety of occupants, residents and customers.”

The issuing of a Prohibition Notice restricts the use of any premises from providing accommodation that does not meet the accepted standards of fire safety. ‘Responsible Persons’ – ie business owners or employers – must accept that they have a Duty of Care to ensure the accommodation they provide is both safe and suitable.