Worthing business exposed people living at property to ‘serious risk of loss of life’, council reports

Inspectors found issues with accommodation at the upper floor of China Place in Chapel Road, Worthing. Photo: Google Image
Inspectors found issues with accommodation at the upper floor of China Place in Chapel Road, Worthing. Photo: Google Image

A Worthing business that housed its employees in unsafe conditions has been fined over £44,000, the council has confirmed.

China Palace Worthing Ltd pleaded guilty to four offences under management regulations relating to Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs), a spokesman from Worthing Borough Council said.

When officers from Worthing Borough Council’s Private Sector Housing team inspected the upper floor at China Palace, Chapel Road, Worthing, they found that the area had been adapted so that at least twelve units of accommodation were available for sleeping or resting, said the spokesman.

However, fire separation was inadequate and the fire detection and emergency lighting systems were not being tested or serviced, according to the spokesman.

West Sussex Fire and Rescue Services (WSFRS) also confirmed that commercial equipment was stored in fire escape routes and firefighting equipment had not been maintained.

A Prohibition Order was served, but was suspended under appeal by the company, said the spokesman.

But when no meaningful improvements to fire safety were made, court proceedings were started.

Worthing Magistrates Court fined the company £11,100 for each of the three of the offences related to fire, and £7,950 for an offence in respect of facilities, confirmed the spokesman.

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.

In sentencing, the magistrates noted that this was a large fine, but that the company had exposed people living at the property to a serious risk of loss of life for over six months with very little activity in relation to repairs, according to the spokesman.

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