Beccles-based business fined for fire risk offences
Mallard Enterprises Ltd was today ordered to pay £120,000 after risking lives by failing to comply with a Prohibition Notice issued by Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service.
The company owns and manages Worlingham Hall, a popular Grade I listed wedding and events venue, which is also used for holiday lets. As such, it is subject to fire regulations, but admitted to three recorded breaches of notices issued by Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) in 2021.
This included the blatant disregard of a Prohibition Notice issued by fire protection officers last April to prevent sleeping at Worlingham Hall due to inadequate fire safety measures, with the breach being discovered when SFRS visited the premises in September 2021 and found a wedding with overnight guests taking place.
Four other fire safety offences were also recorded, and Mallard Enterprises Ltd admitted to failing to:
- undertake a fire risk assessment
- make arrangements for the effective planning, organisation and monitoring of preventive/protective measures in event of fire
- equip premises with appropriate fire-fighting equipment, detectors, and alarms
- comply with requirements to safeguard in event of fire
When given the opportunity to come clean about any further offences, the company asked for an additional 11 breaches of the Prohibition Notice to be taken into consideration.
After pleading guilty at Ipswich Magistrates Court in June, Mallard Enterprises Ltd appeared at Chelmsford Magistrates Court today (Thursday 13 October) for sentencing. Upon ordering a fine of £120,000 for the company, District Judge Tim King commented that “cost cutting at the expense of safety is not acceptable.”
Jon Lacey, Chief Fire Officer for Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service, said:
“Taking a company to court is only ever a last resort for our Protection team, who remain committed to working with businesses across Suffolk to help them meet fire regulations and ensure they prioritise the safety of their customers.
“However, on this occasion, Mallard Enterprises Ltd did not take heed of our advice leaving us with no option but to seek a prosecution to highlight the severe consequences of ignoring our important guidance.
“I would like to thank all those involved in bringing the company to justice.”
Cllr Andrew Reid, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Public Protection, added:
“Couples getting married at Worlingham Hall expected it to be the happiest day of their lives, when, in reality, things could have taken a very nasty turn in the event of a fire, had it not been for the intervention of our Protection team.
“The actions of Mallard Enterprises were incredibly dangerous, as demonstrated by the judge’s verdict, which I hope will serve as a warning to any business that cutting corners with fire prevention measures can cost a hefty fine or, even worse, lives.
“I am immensely grateful to our fire service for securing today’s outcome, and for their continued efforts to protect Suffolk’s communities.”
The company must also pay SFRS’s legal costs, which are in excess of £10,000.