Published: Tuesday, 24th Sep 2019

Safety inspectors investigating complaints of nausea found a snooker club heated by damaged equipment, dangerous open flames and a gas cannister secured with a wrench.

Snooker gasBolton Crown Court ordered Farnworth Snooker Club owner Stephen Ankers to complete 135 hours of unpaid work after he ignored a formal warning over the improvised heating system.

The court heard that Bolton Council enforcement officers had visited the Church Street venue after members of the public had experienced headaches and nausea.

The unannounced inspection in December 2017 revealed two forced air heaters linked to 47kg propane gas cylinders.

Both heaters were visibly damaged, and one was connected to its fuel source using only an adjustable wrench.

One of the heaters had an open flame protruding beyond its casing, posing a serious risk of injury to customers stood in close proximity.

The building did not have the required ventilation and Mr Ankers was unable to produce a gas safety certificate.   

The club began using the heaters after the gas supply was cut off and had found that electric heaters were too expensive to operate.

Council officers contacted the Gas Emergency Service which promptly issued a Gas Safety Warning Notice. 

Mr Ankers were also served a health and safety Prohibition Notice banning the use of the bottled propane gas and heaters inside the building.

A subsequent visit showed the heating system had been removed from the site.

However, during a third inspection officers found the cannisters and heaters back in use in clear breach of the prohibition notice.

After Mr Ankers admitted the heaters had been in use for the previous two days, officers removed the equipment from the site and informed him he would be prosecuted for breaching the notice.

The court ordered Mr Ankers to complete the 135 unpaid hours within 12 months and pay £2026.82 in courts costs.

An order was also granted to destroy the seized heaters.

If inspectors had not intervened, this could have easily resulted in loss of life.

Bolton Council’s Executive Cabinet Member for Environmental Regulatory Services, Cllr Anne Galloway, said:

“This business owner has shown utter contempt for public safety.

“Having been given a formal warning, he continued to use this dangerous equipment despite the obvious risk of fire, serious burns, explosion or lethal carbon monoxide poisoning.

“If inspectors had not intervened, this could have easily resulted in loss of life.

“As a council we will continue to hold reckless individuals to account and I urge all business owners to make certain they are complying with all safety laws and regulations.”