Council fined £20,000 for CO leak

05 Dec 2011

A council has been fined £20,000 after carbon monoxide leaked from a faulty gas boiler at a community centre.

Members of a bridge club had to be evacuated from the Westlands Community Centre in Whitfield Avenue, Newcastle-under-Lyme, after firefighters found extremely high levels of carbon monoxide escaping from the flue in the loft.

The group had called fire crews after suspecting a gas leak.

Fenton Magistrates' Court heard the toxic fumes had begun to seep into a storeroom off the main hall after sections of the flue had come apart.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive found the contract for maintenance and annual safety checks of all gas appliances in the 38 properties owned by the council, including nine households, had lapsed 12 months previously.

The court also heard that the 30-year-old boiler at Westlands Community Centre had not been checked for nearly two years before the incident on March 30, 2009.

Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, of Civic Offices, Merrial Street, Newcastle-under-Lyme, admitted breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and Regulation 5 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

It was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay £25,550 costs.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Lynne Boulton, said: "It is unacceptable that members of the public were put at risk by Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council's failure to take proper measures to protect them."

Copyright Press Association 2011

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