The former owners of the Falstaff Hotel in Leamington Spa have been fined more than £350,000 after repeated fire safety breaches put guests and staff at risk. The hotel is now under new management.

Between them, the companies pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to 38 fire safety charges.

  • Talash Hotels Ltd admitted nine charges and was fined £212,000 and ordered to pay £34,766 costs
  • Talash Ltd admitted 29 charges but had a smaller turnover and was fined £150,000 and ordered to pay £32,913 costs

On several occasions between November 2017 and February 2019 inspections by fire service officers showed a repeated failure to take general fire safety precautions. Inspections by fire officer Michael Leach showed problems including:

  • a lack of fireproofing on ground floor fire exits, where non-fire-resistant glass was fitted
  • three fire escapes with UPVC frames and glass which was not fire-resistant
  • a plastic bag over a smoke detector in a first-floor bedroom
  • a lack of fire protection in a corridor
  • an alarm display panel showing faults
  • the basement was being used for staff accommodation, but it had not been risk-assessed and the doors were not fire-proof.

Tony Watkin, prosecuting on behalf of Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “There were 15 visits or inspections by fire officers, and on each occasion serious fire safety breaches were seen. At all times senior personnel were made aware of the safety issues… There is a history of non-compliance going back to May 2016 when an enforcement notice had to be served.”

Further enforcement notices were served in May, June and September 2018, and prohibition notices, the most serious fire officers have the power to serve, were also issued. One of those prohibited the use of bedrooms in ‘zone 8’ at the Falstaff because the fire alarm system in that area had been disabled. But before it was repaired, 47 rooms in that zone were occupied on 12 dates, putting all those occupants at risk.

Other problems highlighted during inspections included:

  • fire doors found ajar or wedged open
  • ceiling lights that weren’t working
  • linen bags were blocking the route to fire escapes from some rooms
  • no evidence of maintenance or testing of the alarm system
  • no automatic smoke detection in many areas of the hotel.

The hotel is now under new management and the charges do not relate to them. Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service said the new owners have installed extensive improvements throughout, including a new fire detection system.

Published: 8th October 2021