A hotel owner has been ordered to pay a total of £45,000 for “serious and systemic” fire safety failures which “put staff and guests at risk”.

Falgun Patel, owner of the Baytree Hotel in Vicarage Lane, was slapped with the fine following a London Fire Brigade inspection of the 16-room hotel, situated above a pub.

Inspectors found serious fire safety deficiencies including no smoke detection, numerous fire doors tied open and missing or malfunctioning door closers.

Officers also found a first floor external emergency exit route was blocked by large amounts of stored rubbish.

There was no fire risk assessment in place or any evidence of methodical management of fire safety and on duty staff could not explain emergency procedures.

East London and West Essex Guardian Series:

An emergency exit route was blocked by rubbish. Photo: London Fire Brigade

The Brigade’s assistant commissioner for fire safety, Dan Daly, said: “There were serious and systemic fire safety failures at The Baytree Hotel and what few steps were taken to satisfy fire safety duties were amateurish and half-hearted.

“A fire in a building with serious fire safety failings such as those our inspectors uncovered could have been lethal and the owner has put staff and guests at very real risk by failing to maintain standards.

“If occupants had tried to escape in the event of a fire, they would have found their escape route compromised and unusable, trapping them in the building.

“It was simply a matter of luck that there hadn’t been a fire at the hotel. There is no excuse for leaving people’s safety to chance, especially when information is so readily available to those with responsibility for safety in buildings to understand what their duties are and ensure they comply with the law.

“Whilst we are keen to work with building owners to help them meet their safety responsibilities, we won’t hesitate to prosecute and seek the highest appropriate penalties where we find they are not taking those responsibilities seriously.”

Act Grange Ltd, which runs The Baytree Hotel and the company’s sole director Falgun Patel were sentenced at Southwark Crown Court on Monday, January 13, after pleading guilty to five breaches of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

If Patel fails to pay his fine, he could face six months imprisonment.