‘Death risk’ asylum lodge owners fined

Angel Lodge, a temporary hostel for asylum seekers, is being closed down by government spending cuts.
Angel Lodge, a temporary hostel for asylum seekers, is being closed down by government spending cuts.

UP to 220 aslyum seekers could have been killed in a fire at a hostel because its alarm was not working.

Wakefield Magistrates’ Court heard the only way to raise the alarm at Angel Lodge would have been to shout ‘fire’.

But many of the residents could not speak English.

Representatives from Angel Services (UK), which ran the hostel on Love Lane, were not in court but in a letter the company pleaded guilty to two breaches of fire safety regulations on Monday.

Prosecutor Sarah Dimmock, of West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority, said the firm failed to keep an up-to-date risk assessment.

The last one provided to fire safety inspectors dated back to December 2006 – and issues such as the faulty alarm and holes in bedroom doors had still not been addressed.

Mrs Dimmock said: “In the opinion of the fire authority the failure to review and keep up to date a suitable and sufficient risk assessment placed one or more relevant person at risk of death or serious injury in the event of fire.”

The second breach committed by the company was failing to maintain fire alarm in good working order and repair.

Mrs Dimmock said the company had been made aware of the fault on eight separate occasions.

She added: “Normally only one member of staff was on duty a night for 220 residents and had a fire occurred, the fact that the arm was not working would have been disastrous.”

“Alerting residents by word of mouth by shouting ‘fire’ would have been the only option and could have resulted in panic.”

District Judge Marie Mallon fined the company £3,300 for each offence. She also ordered it to pay £4,445 costs and a £15 victim surcharge.

Angel Lodge, which provides temporary accommodation to asylum seekers, was closed in March after government funding was slashed.

The controversial centre sparked a major backlash when plans were first made public in 2001 and again, when it opened in 2007.