Hotelier with ‘cavalier attitude’ towards safety fined £60K
Mr Gurnam Singh Rai, the leaseholder and current operator of the International Hotel in Derby, has been sentenced to 6 months imprisonment, fined a total of £40,000, and ordered to pay costs of £20,000. Mr Rai pleaded guilty to 4 breaches of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, following the discovery of a string of unsafe fire safety practices at the hotel.
On 20 January 2015 Fire Safety Inspecting Officers from Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service carried out a routine Fire Safety Audit and compliance assessment of the International Hotel. They discovered significant findings of the fire risk assessment had not been acted upon, the general fire precautions were inadequate, structural maintenance was insufficient, the external fire escapes were corroded, fire doors were found to be wedged open, the fire alarm and emergency lighting had numerous defects, fire extinguishers had not been tested and staff training incomplete.
Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service subsequently served an Enforcement Notice on 13 March 2015 with a compliance date of 20 April 2015. Despite numerous visits and warnings, the work required had still not been completed by August 2015 and the Fire Authority commenced legal action.
Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service, Area Manager Alex Johnson said: “The sentencing of Mr Rai serves as a harsh reminder of the danger that occupants of the International Hotel would have been placed in should a fire have broken out. “Occupants of the hotel were put at significant risk due to the apparent lack of fire safety precautions and building maintenance. If a fire had broken out, this could easily have led to serious injuries or the loss of life.”
In sentencing, Judge Coke said: “It is quite clear to me that there was an unwillingness to spend monies and no intention or willingness to comply with the safety of guests. “The entire history of this case expresses a cavalier attitude to the safety of guests. “I have a duty to make it clear how important these regulations are and, when flouted as they have been, there can be no other sentence than immediate imprisonment.”