A “DEATHTRAP” hotel, which once hosted BNP rallies, has been closed down after being raided by fire and council chiefs.
Inspectors found people living in “dangerous” conditions when they searched the New Kimberley Hotel, on New South Promenade, South Shore yesterday.
Inside the property they found:
• A dangerous and illegally obtained electrical supply fitted with home-made fuses
• Part of the roof being held up by a single steel pole
• Ceilings that had caved in
• Extreme disrepair across the hotel
• No water supply in half of the building
• Twenty smoke alarms had been disabled and one was faulty
• Fire exits blocked by mattresses and bedsteads
The building, which has around 90 rooms, has now been closed down and both the council and fire service are considering further legal action against the hotel’s lease holder, Peter Metcalf.
Mr Metcalf, who hosted BNP conferences at the hotel, has previously found himself in deep water with the authorities.
He was handed a 12-week prison sentence suspended for 18 months in 2010 after admitting 13 food hygiene charges.
On that occasion, environmental health officers had found the kitchen equipment and food preparation areas were caked with mould and grime and food was stored dangerously and could have become contaminated by bacteria.
Yesterday’s raid – which took place at 7.30am – was triggered after a utility company had gone to turn off the water at the property and reported concerns to the council that there may be people living inside.
Alex Bracken, Blackpool Council’s housing enforcement manager, who was among those inspecting the property, said: “I would say it was a deathtrap.
“If a fire had broken out, which is highly likely given the conditions in the hotel, it would have actually put the fire team in jeopardy.
“The electricity was connected by illegal means and there were some big fire exit blockages and some doors were nailed shut.”
Enforcement officers were also met with mould on the walls, rooms filled with debris, and chairs and microwaves lying in the building’s narrow hallways.
To the rear of the hotel windows had been smashed and there was evidence squatters had used one of the rooms.
Fire safety enforcement officer, Steve Simms, said: “There’s no two ways about it, it’s one of the worst properties we’ve seen.
“Our concern here was there was nothing put in place for the safety of the people inside.
“The roof is being held up by a steel pole, and there were hardly any fire safety measures within the communal areas. One of the main messages we want to try and get out is people have a responsibility for the safety of those that stay within their property, but we have people who seem to think it’s not their responsibility.”
Four tenants and a dog were found inside the hotel, including one man who had been living in the property for three years.
They told officers they paid Mr Metcalf £50 a week in rent.
The council is now assisting the four men in helping them find alternative accommodation while Electricity North West has now cut the property’s electrical supply.
One of the tenants, who did not want to be named, told The Gazette: “It’s horrendous but it was just cheap and I was paying cash.
“The mattresses were to stop people trying to break in, it’s a regular occurrence.”
The man had lived in the hotel on and off for four years.
He added: “When I came here first it was fine, but since I moved back in it’s gone totally downhill.”
Two police officers were on hand in order to prevent any potential breach of the peace.
Coun Gillian Campbell, the council’s cabinet member for housing and public protection, witnessed the disrepair first hand.
She said: “The conditions inside the hotel were truly shocking.
“We identified a number of what we believe to be potentially life-threatening defects, all of which we believe are a danger to the occupiers and any visitors to the property.
“In addition, this is a hotel which appears to have been used as an unauthorised hostel which is a breach of planning legislation.
“We found four people living in these conditions on a permanent basis.
“The council will use all available powers to ensure this property does not operate this way in the future.”
Neighbours have shared their dismay at the demise of the hotel.
Charles Ruppert, owner of the nearby Colwyn Hotel, said: “It’s such a shame because there’s a bit of history to that place and it used to be such a thriving hotel, it had a lovely ballroom.
“But that’s the way it goes these days and it’s a sorry state of affairs.
“If you don’t keep on top of things it eventually will become dangerous.”
Another hotelier, who did not want to be named, said: “It’s no surprise, we’ve been here seven years and it used to be such a nice hotel.”
The Gazette approached Mr Metcalf at the property but he declined to comment.