THREE quarters of businesses inspected in Blackpool have missing or fake safety documents, trading standards chiefs have revealed.
And fire and rescue service bosses today said those flouting the rules were gambling with their customers’ lives.
Electrical fires account for around 15 per cent of blazes in commercial premises across Blackpool.
Town hall trading standards chiefs said some unqualified rogue tradesmen were offering fake certificates for as little as £200.
They are warning premises to ensure they only use genuine contractors – even if they are more expensive – and are not tempted to try to dupe the authorities.
In two shocking cases, officers went into a hotel and were presented with a certificate filled out in the premises owner’s own handwriting, while one document was signed ‘Sparky’.
Blackpool Council licensing enforcement chiefs today revealed out of 20 different commercial premises inspected on a typical weekend, three quarters regularly do not have the correct paperwork.
Some have been caught out faking their electrical records, while others have used rogue contractors.
And Coun Gillian Campbell, cabinet member for housing and quality standards on Blackpool Council, told The Gazette: “Our enforcement team is out every weekend checking Blackpool businesses are operating correctly.
“It’s completely unacceptable hotels and pubs which take money from residents and visitors aren’t fulfilling the most basic of safety requirements.
“We know it’s expensive to have electrics checked but unfortunately that comes with running a business, it’s not optional it’s a necessity.
“Anyone trying to find a cheap shortcut is putting the lives of themselves and their customers in danger. Our team is there to offer advice and support to help businesses operate within the law but we won’t hesitate to take tough action against those who deliberately and continually pose a danger to the public.”
Sean Hennessey, fire safety manager for Blackpool for Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, said the number of fires caused by electrical faults was increasing and stressed safety measures needed to be taken seriously.
He added: “We have a lot of electrical fires in Blackpool, they account for about 15 per cent of fires in commercial premises and they are definitely on the increase.
“It is really important for owners to ensure their electrical equipment is safe. It is particularly important for accommodation such as hotels and flats where people are sleeping, and where lives could be put at risk, that people inspect their electrics regularly and use a competent electrician.
“If we identify an issue where we think the electrics are in a poor condition, we inform the council’s licensing department in order that they can carry out an inspection.”
Blackpool Council’s licensing enforcement officer Mark Marshall told the council’s licensing committee it was becoming a widespread issue.
He added: “Fraudulent certificates are becoming more and more of a problem, and people are giving out false certificates for £200. One premises is having to do its electrical work again.
“We have given them the benefit of the doubt and will reinspect the premises.”
Industry representatives said although it was costly, premises should not compromise when it came to electrical safety.
Dave Daly, North West chairman for licensees for the Unite union, and landlord of The Castle pub on Central Drive, warned: “It is very expensive getting your electrics done but it is essential they are in place.”
“The cost is minimal compared to what could happen.
“A lot of fires in Blackpool are caused by electrical faults and it is imperative all premises are legal and safe.”
Claire Smith, president of hoteliers group StayBlackpool, said: “There is an element who cannot afford it and those who are morally irresponsible.
“The answer is some form of licensing which means premises must be compliant with all the laws and that includes electrics.”