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£24,000 bill after repeated serious breaches of fire regulations

A landlord in Milton Keynes has been ordered to pay a total of £24,168.29 for serious breaches of fire safety regulations after pleading guilty to 10 charges brought under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. 

A court was told that Nicole Harris, also known as Nicola Hunter, had pleaded guilty to eight charges at a previous hearing in February, for failing to take adequate fire precautions in respect of the premises, and a further two summary charges for obstructing fire officers in the line of duty.

Buckinghamshire & Milton Keynes Fire Authority brought the charges following an inspection of the premises by fire safety officers almost a year ago after receiving a fire safety complaint from Milton Keynes council housing officers.  

The inspection identified significant and serious contraventions of fire safety regulations which led to the issue of a prohibition notice.

These included inadequate fire protection for fire escape routes, combustible storage material within the fire escape route, an inadequate fire warning system, no fire risk assessment, no firefighting equipment and a failure to comply with the requirements of a Prohibition Notice.

Magistrates heard that Harris, who ran the property partly as a guest house, had continued to let parts of the premises for sleeping guests despite the service of a prohibition notice which expressly prohibited the premises from accommodating sleeping guests.

In mitigation presented by the defence, the court was informed of Harris's regret and failure to appreciate her obligations under the regulations over these offences. Her previous character was described as exemplary with no previous convictions.

Magistrates fined Harris a total of £16,000 for the 10 offences together with a victim surcharge payment of £15, and awarded full costs of £8,153.29 in favour of Buckinghamshire & Milton Keynes Fire Authority. 

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