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Press Release - Former factory owner fined for breaching prohibition notice
Posted on 29/09/2017

The owner of a former factory has been ordered to pay a fine after breaching the requirements of a prohibition notice.

Mr Christopher Black, the owner and responsible person for Zigzag, Morlands Site, Glastonbury, attended Taunton Crown Court today (29 September) and pleaded guilty to breaching the requirements of a prohibition notice.

The judge took account of Mr Black’s limited finances but stated that “a failure to comply with a prohibition notice is a breach of the law and must be punished." Mr Black has been ordered to pay a fine of £500 and a £500 contribution towards costs incurred by the Fire Authority.

In September 2014, Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service officers inspected the premises, a large former three-storey factory. All three floors were in use providing various functions, such as a large kitchen area with LPG gas cooker and wood burning oven on the ground floor; a cinema and art gallery on the first floor and a yurt located on the second floor used for a place of contemplation.

The inspection identified several serious deficiencies in the fire safety provisions including:

  • a lack of a suitable automatic fire detection and warning system
  • an external stair in such a poor state it was not safe to use
  • an internal wooden stair which was open to all levels offering no protection in the event of a fire
  • excessive travel distances and lack of fire exit signs
  • lack of emergency lighting.

Due to the dangerous conditions found at the premises a prohibition notice was served.

Following the serving of the prohibition notice officers made several visits to the premises as it was recognised that the extent of work and funds available to Mr Black would mean it may take considerable time to bring the premises up to the required standard. During this time the prohibition notice remained in force and Mr Black was reminded of the requirements of the notice.

In July 2015 another inspection of the premises was carried out by officers of Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service where they found evidence that the requirements of the notice had been breached on a number of occasions. During a subsequent interview Mr Black admitted that he had allowed the use of the upper floors even though he knew the prohibition notice remained in force.

Group Manager Paul Bray, Business Safety Manager for Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service, said: "Mr Black is the owner of the premises and had full control. The decision to serve a prohibition notice is not taken lightly and is only issued where there is a serious and imminent risk of death or serious injury in the event of a fire.”

Mr Bray went on to say: “Mr Black was fully aware of the notice and the restrictions imposed on his premises. Without implementing any suitable measures or obtaining advice he allowed the upper floors to be used knowingly putting people at risk. His actions demonstrate a complete disregard to the safety of himself and others.”

When considering a prosecution Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service will take account of personal circumstances but this will not prevent the Service taking the necessary action where there has been a deliberate risk to life.

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