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April 27, 2010


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Co-op fined 210,000 pounds after fire safety breaches

The Co-operative Group – the UK’s largest mutual retailer – has been fined £210,000 after pleading guilty to six breaches of fire safety legislation at Southampton Crown Court yesterday.

It follows an investigation in 2007 at one of the Co-op’s Southampton branches. Officers from Hampshire Fire and Rescue found that the store had failed to keep the rear emergency exit doors unlocked, and had fitted a lock on the exit doors that required a security code – making the exit harder to open in an emergency. In addition, the fire alarm call point was found to be obstructed and the alarm had not been tested regularly, while the store’s manager was not instructed in fire safety.

The prosecution under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 by Hampshire Fire and Rescue Authority also took into account three other offences at other Co-op premises in Southampton and Portsmouth.

A spokeswoman for the Co-operative Group said: “As a responsible retailer, the Co-operative Group takes health and safety issues very seriously. At the time of these incidents, the Group was introducing substantially more stringent health and safety procedures, investing heavily, both in time and money, in all aspects of fire safety.

"The Co-operative Group deeply regrets the breaches but reiterates that its rigorous measures, now established and continually reviewed in conjunction with fire authorities across the country, ensure the safety of its valued customers and staff.”

In 2007, the Co-operative Group was fined what was then believed to be a record £250,000 for 13 offences under the previous Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations in six stores in East Sussex.


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