CHESHIRE Fire and Rescue Service has spoken out following the sentencing of a Chester hotel which failed to heed fire safety warnings.

Previously, we reported that the fire service had prosecuted the Mollington Banastre Hotel in Parkgate Road, with hotel owners Brook Hotels No1 Ltd fined a total of £45,000 and ordered to pay prosecution costs totalling £20,000.

Former director Ashok Ummat, 70 and now retired, was fined £2,000.

The judge said while it was a "sad episode" for Ummat, it "could have been a tragic" one if there had been a fire at the hotel.

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service inspecting officers found serious deficiencies and breaches of fire safety during the initial audit inspection on June 28, 2018.

These deficiencies included:

  • inadequate means of escape from the first and second floors
  • inadequate fire resistant 'compartmentation' to prevent the spread of smoke and fire
  • poor electrical maintenance
  • insufficient fire risk assessment
  • no record of an emergency plan
  • insufficient emergency lighting on the external means of escape from the first floor
  • deficient fire doors
  • insufficient records for fire alarm maintenance.

An action plan was agreed between the inspecting officers and Ummat on July 24, 2018 with a completion date of April 1, 2019 ultimately agreed to rectify the deficiencies.

After further inspection on April 2, 2019, inspecting officers served Ummat with a prohibition notice under Article 31 of the FSO, prohibiting the use of several bedrooms in the older part of the building for hotel accommodation. An enforcement notice was then issued on April 5, issuing a schedule of works to make the affected rooms safe before allowing people to stay.

Prosecuting, Joseph Hart said the fire escape route was an "unacceptable risk" for guests on the second floor of the older part of the building in April 2019, with the route consisting of "uneven surfaces" and a ladder.

Mr Hart said there had been a "wilful blindness to the risk of offending", with a "systematic failure to act" on fire safety.

Area manager Steve McCormick, head of prevention and protection at Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, said following last Thursday's sentencing at Chester Crown Court: "Fire safety is an essential part of good business management and Mr Ummat showed little regard for the safety of the guests at the Mollington Banastre Hotel & Spa.

"This was apparent by the fact that he failed to take our advice and follow the agreed action plan to make the premises safer.

"We always aim to help and support any business to operate safely, however this case shows that we will take action when fire safety responsibilities are not taken seriously."

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service has a dedicated protection and business safety team that offers advice and support to businesses to enable them to operate safely. To find out more visit