Hotel company and director fined thousands for health and safety non compliance

A Swindon hotel company and its director were fined more than £8,000 after failing to comply with a health and safety improvement notice.

Shamsuddoha Chowdhury and Swandown Hotel Ltd were prosecuted by Swindon Borough Council’s Food, Health and Safety team for failing to comply with the requirements of an Improvement Notice served under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

Swandown Hotel Ltd owns and operates Swandown Hotel, 36-37 Victoria Road, Old Town.

Officers from the Council’s Food, Health and Safety Team visited the hotel in August 2021 following complaints from customers regarding health and safety concerns including blocked fire escapes, damaged electric sockets, a lack of COVID-19 controls and broken bed frames. Following further safety inspections, an Improvement Notice was served on the company in September 2021.

The Notice required the business to assess the risks to the health and safety of customers staying at the hotel, as well as the risks to the health and safety of employees or contractors by 5 November 2021.

Mr Chowdhury was granted an extension until 15 December to comply with the requirements of the Improvement Notice, but when officers revisited the hotel on 20 December 2021, the work had still not been completed.

When interviewed under caution in May 2022, Mr Chowdhury apologised for failing to comply and acknowledged he had been given ‘plenty of time’ to do the work.

During the interview, Mr Chowdhury provided officers with a documented risk assessment that was supposedly produced for the hotel by his ‘Health and Safety Consultant’. However, the risk assessment was not sufficient to satisfy the requirements of the Improvement Notice as it was not site specific and lacked important information.

Council officers then discovered that the author of the risk assessment was actually a guest house owner in another part of the country. On contacting this individual, they confirmed that they had never visited Swandown Hotel, had not undertaken risk assessments on behalf of other hotels, and had no knowledge of, or relationship with, Swandown Hotel Ltd or Mr Chowdhury. The guest house owner also confirmed that no permission had been given to use their risk assessment.

Mr Chowdhury pleaded guilty at Swindon Magistrates Court on Friday (31 March) to both the offence against him and that of the company.

Magistrates were particularly unimpressed that the Notice had still not been complied with and gave Mr Chowdhury a clear warning he could be prosecuted again if action was not taken.

Magistrates also criticised his attempt to pass off another business’s risk assessment as his own. Mr Chowdhury did state that he had now engaged a competent person to undertake a risk assessment and that this would be completed soon.

Mr Chowdhury was fined £830, ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £83, and £1,000 towards the Council’s costs. The company was fined £8,000, ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £190, and the rest of the Council’s costs (£1,186.75).

Source: Swindon BC.