At Bristol Magistrates’ Court, Alan Dykes pleaded guilty to five health and safety at work offences. He was sentenced to eight months in prison and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £7,660.
The case followed many visits by council health and safety inspectors to the old Strachan & Henshaw site over several years. The team had given advice and served notices requiring improvements in the safety management at the large, multi-occupied site but no sustained improvements were noted.
Problems included electrical hazards, asbestos, a leaking roof, blocked fire exits and lack of lighting. In addition, toilets were filthy and poorly maintained which resulted in some occupants of the building preferring to use a fire exit corridor or the yard outside.
During an operation co-ordinated by the police in August 2013, a health and safety inspector found serious electrical hazards, and served an improvement notice that was not complied with.
Other offences included failing to keep the site clean, failing to keep it in good repair, failing to manage the asbestos so as to prevent occupants and visitors breathing in fibres, and a general failure to manage the site so as to ensure that the tenants had a safe and healthy place to work.
Heather Clarke, health and safety inspector at Bristol City Council, said: “We have spent many hours at this site over the years and given Mr Dykes a lot of advice and assistance, but there has never been a sustained improvement and we have become seriously worried about the risks to both the health and safety of tenants. In the end we took the decision to prosecute as it seems the only way to deal with this matter.”
Mr Dykes pleaded guilty to all charges which covered the period from June 2011 to January 2014. He said he believed that some of the works had been done and he had spent a lot of money on the electrical system recently, but now realised he needs to do more.
Summing up, the chair of the magistrates said the evidence showed an escalating pattern of failure to comply with legal requirements and a persistent and wilful disregard for health and safety.
She said that the bench felt that Mr Dykes had showed no sense of remorse and had no regard for his responsibilities as a landlord.
Cllr Daniella Radice, Assistant Mayor for Neighbourhoods, said: “Workers’ rights to health and safety incredibly important. Our inspectors target high risk premises and activities to ensure that those at work are safe.
“Council officers work with businesses to offer advice, but where this advice is consistently disregarded, enforcement action will be taken.”
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