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Hotel owner sentenced for fire safety breaches

The owner of the Cornhill Hotel in Blackpool has been given a nine month sentence and suspended for 18 months, following a series of fire safety breaches.

The sentence was handed to Alan Diamond yesterday (9 June) at Preston Crown Court, and comes after nearly two years of work involving fire safety teams based in Blackpool. 

Complaints were first received by the fire service in June 2018, after an issue with the fire alarm was reported. 

Fire safety inspectors initially provided support to the owner, and a voluntary agreement was agreed, meaning the premises would be closed whilst fire safety improvements were implemented.

Two months later, however, Blackpool Council’s health and safety department received a complaint from a guest at Cornhill Hotel, and inspectors discovered that the fire alarm was switched off with guests still staying at the hotel. 

Due to the serious nature of the breaches, a decision was made to “prohibit the use of the hotel” in light of the inadequate fire safety management.

Despite the prohibition notice, Diamond reportedly continued to accept paying guests and advertise the hotel on a number of internet websites. On three separate occasions Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service fire safety inspectors also reported paying guests sleeping at the hotel.

Following the discovery, a prosecution case file was prepared to begin legal proceedings against the owner. After a “number” of court appearances, Diamond pleaded guilty to a number of the offences of the Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order 2005 in February 2020.

Group manager Mark Hutton, fire protection group manager for Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “These were extremely serious fire safety failings which, had a fire occurred in the hotel, were highly likely to have led to widespread loss of life, serious injuries and potentially far-reaching damage to the wider community and reputation of Blackpool as a safe place to visit and stay.

“Our team of dedicated fire safety inspectors, and business safety advisors, work tirelessly to support all businesses that set out to comply with fire safety regulations.” 

He added: “Sadly in this case the owner of this business chose not only to ignore that support, but also elected to repetitively breach a prohibition notice and allow his building to be used for guest sleeping accommodation even though he knew there were serious problems with fire doors and the fire alarm.

“Members of the public who expect to be able to book safe sleeping accommodation, and other businesses who are competing in the same marketplace and choose to invest in and embrace fire safety, should be in no doubt that when situations like this occur, and the regulations are flouted, Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service and its inspectors will not hesitate to gather evidence and take those issues to the courts.”

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