A Brighton hotel had fire hazards for three years – despite the owner being told of the dangers by fire crews.

Hotel Nineteen was taken to Brighton Magistrates’ Court, when owner Mark McCullough pleaded guilty to breaching fire safety legislations.

Bed linen and DVDs and CDs were stored on two floors under the seven-bedroom hotel’s only staircase.

Mark Hobbs, legislation and enforcement officer at East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We know that CDs and DVDs burn well and emit a lot of toxic black smoke.

"They have been a contributory factor in a number of tragic house fires across the country.”

There was no fire door separating the lower ground floor and level above and the hotel’s doors did not meet fire safety standards.

Mr Hobbs said: “The conditions weren’t so serious that we considered closing the building but they were serious and we wanted them to be dealt with.”

Problems were first highlighted in September 2009 but not put right despite an enforcement notice being issued and East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service decided to prosecute in July 2012.

Mr MuCullough said the work costing more than £5,000 was done in August 2012.

Struggling business

He said his business had been struggling for five years and the banks would not loan him money to cover the cost of the work.

He said: “If the fire service thought I was a real danger to the public they would have closed me down. But they just wanted to make an example of me and see me prosecuted.”

Group manager Richard Fowler, Head of Protection for ESFRS, said: “Despite our officers’ best efforts to inform and educate the responsible person in their duties over an extended period of time, it is disappointing that Hotel Nineteen failed to comply with requests for improvements to be made to the fire safety arrangements, as this eventually led to a formal notice being served.

“It is particularly disappointing that the company then failed to then comply with this formal notice, resulting in protracted legal proceedings that detract officers from attending to other matters.”

In sentencing the Magistrates on Thursday, January 24, said they were serious offences and if it were not for the poor financial circumstances of the business they would be considering substantial fines.

Hotel Nineteen Ltd was given a two year conditional discharge and ordered to pay costs of £1,000.

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