Last reviewed 27 May 2022

Cheshire Fire Authority (CFA) has successfully prosecuted a hotel owner in Widnes who was accused of putting profit before people and having a flagrant disregard for rules designed to keep his guests and staff safe.

William Hanson pleaded guilty in Liverpool Crown Court to nine counts of serious breaches of the Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order.

A spokeswoman for the CFA said that the 10-bedroom Main Top Hotel had no working fire alarm, fire doors were missing, emergency lighting was not properly maintained, combustible materials were stored in escape routes and there were no fire doors separating the kitchen from bedrooms.

In addition, inspectors noted a failure to maintain fire extinguishers, no emergency plan for guests, no fire risk assessment being carried out and inadequate fire-resistant compartmentation to prevent the spread of smoke and fire.

Such was the risk to occupants, inspecting officers immediately served the owner with a notice prohibiting the use of the premises for living and sleeping accommodation and gave him a schedule of works to make the premises safe before allowing people to stay in the future.

Follow-up visits revealed that Mr Hanson was failing to comply with the notice and fire inspectors found four guests staying at the Main Top, in breach of the prohibition.

In sentencing, Judge Garrett Byrne told the hotel owner that he had put people at risk of serious injury or death. He sentenced Mr Hanson to a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, and ordered him to pay £5000 in costs, undergo 35 days of rehabilitation and undertake 80 hours of unpaid work in the community.

Lee Shears, head of prevention and protection at Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “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.”