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Restaurant fined £44k for ‘unsafe’ living conditions

A Worthing restaurant that housed its employees in conditions that “risked their lives” has now been fined over £44,000 following action by Worthing Borough Council.

China Place had created 12 small rooms that breached fire safety regulations in the premises above the restaurant.

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Last month, the restaurant pleaded guilty to four offences under the Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006. Worthing magistrates fined the company £11,100 for each of the three offences related to fire and £7,950 for an offence in respect of facilities. 

The company was also ordered to pay the Council’s costs of £2795.86 and a victim surcharge of £181 for a total of £44,226.86.

Police were first alerted to the unsafe housing last July, and following this, officers from Worthing Borough Council’s Private Sector Housing team were sent to investigate the conditions.

They discovered that the fire separation measures were “inadequate”, and the fire detection and emergency lighting systems were not being tested or serviced.

Following the initial investigation, West Sussex Fire and Rescue Services (WSFRS) attended at the request of Worthing Borough Council and confirmed that fire doors to the escape routes were being propped open and were in poor condition, equipment was being stored in fire escape routes and firefighting equipment had not been maintained.

A Prohibition Order was served, and a further inspection by WSFRS last December found that “no substantive improvements” to fire safety had been made. Following this, Worthing Borough Council’s legal team prepared the case for prosecution.

At the sentencing, magistrates said the company had “exposed people living at the property to a serious risk of loss of life for more than 6 months with very little activity in relation to repairs”.

Worthing Borough Council’s executive member for customer services, Cllr Dr Heather Mercer, said: “I want to congratulate the members of our Private Sector Housing Team for their diligence and dedication to see this through to a successful conclusion.”

“We take very seriously the right of everyone in this borough to live in safe accommodation. Let this be a warning to anyone else who would house people in such conditions that we will not hesitate to prosecute you.”

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