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Chester hotel director prosecuted for “serious” fire safety breaches

10 December 2023

THE OWNER of a Chester hotel has been ordered to pay a total of £67,000 for breaking fire safety laws. Ashok Ummat, director of Mollington Banastre Hotel and Spa, appeared at Chester Crown Court on 16 November charged with three counts of “serious breaches” relating to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

Prosecuting the case, Warren Spencer (managing director of Blackhurst Budd Solicitors and a regular guest interviewee on the Fire Safety Matters Podcast in relation to specific legal issues) informed the court that inspecting officers from the Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service had found serious deficiencies and breaches of the Fire Safety Order during the initial audit inspection that took place on 28 June 2018.

These deficiencies included inadequate means of escape from the first and second floors of the premises, inadequate fire-resistant compartmentation to prevent the spread of fire and smoke, poor electrical maintenance, an insufficient fire risk assessment, no record of an emergency plan, insufficient emergency lighting on the external means of escape from the first floor, deficient fire doors and insufficient records pertaining to fire alarm maintenance.

An action plan was agreed between the inspecting officers and Ashok Ummat on 24 July 2018, with a completion date of 1 April 2019 being agreed, by which time the deficiencies listed had to be rectified.

Prohibition Notice

Subsequent to a further inspection of the premises carried out on 2 April 2019, inspecting officers served Ummat with a Prohibition Notice under Article 31 of the Fir Safety Order, thereby prohibiting the use of several rooms for hotel accommodation. An Enforcement Notice was then issued on 5 April 2019 containing a schedule of works designed to make the affected rooms safe before allowing people to stay at the premises.

Area manager Steve McCormick, head of prevention and protection at the Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, stated: “Fire safety is an essential part of good business management. Mr Ummat showed little regard for the safety of the guests staying at the Mollington Banastre Hotel and Spa. This was apparent by the fact that he failed to heed our advice and follow the agreed action plan in order to make the premises safer.”

McCormick concluded: “We always aim to help and support any business to operate safely. However, this case clearly shows that we will initiate action when fire safety responsibilities are not taken seriously.”