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Restaurant owner loses licenses after DIY gas supply work

A restaurateur is facing ruin after his licenses were revoked following a catalogue of fire safety complaints, the Cornish Guardian has reported.

In evidence presented to Cornwall Council’s licensing subcommittee last week, Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service said Martin Billingsley’s actions at Food For Thought and The Boathouse, on Town Quay in Fowey, presented a “serious fire and explosion risk”.

Mr Billingsley was also accused by Devon and Cornwall Police of failing to meet standards relating to “public safety, prevention of crime and disorder, prevention of public nuisance and protection of children from harm”.

Members of the committee heard that Mr Billingsley had a history of “non-compliance with safety requirements” stretching back several years.

A visit on 3 June resulted in him being served an enforcement notice for not maintaining adequate fire safety equipment and providing his staff with “inadequate fire safety training”.

Similar issues were raised in December 2013 and again in March this year.

In a report to the committee, commercial food and safety officer for Cornwall Council Darren Hambl, said he had visited the restaurants three times in recent months to undertake safety inspections.

Describing his visit on 3 June, Mr Hambly said he discovered the piped gas supply from the rear of the premises had been switched off, which Mr Billingsley said was because a gas interlock had been tripped.

Three 47kg gas cylinders had been brought into the kitchen where they were “inappropriately connected” to cooking appliances.

The committee heard that Mr Billingsley had disconnected and reconnected the gas supply, despite not being certified to carry out such work.

As a result, the premises had no valid gas safety certificate.

The committee said in its report: “The situation gave rise to potential gas leakage and potential explosion that could have caused serious harm or death to the occupants of the kitchen, the staff accommodation above and to persons in the restaurant and passers-by”.

The Cornish Guardian attempted to contact Mr Billingsley for a comment but had received no response at the time of going to press.

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