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Man sentenced after building collapse 'puts lives at risk'

A builder in Kent has been given a suspended sentence after safety failings led to the collapse of a building on Ramsgate high street.

Martin Elmes of Barnacres Road, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire has been sentenced to nine months in prison, suspended for two years, after pleading guilty to breaching construction regulations while undertaking demolition work on the site in November 2013.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive into the collapse, which occurred on 6 November 2013, found that Mr Elmes had failed to properly plan the work and then carried out unsafe demolition work.

Mr Elmes pleaded guilty in Canterbury Crown Court to breaching Regulation 25(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.

The owner of the building, Panther AL (VAT) Limited (PALL) of Deneway House, Darkes Lane, Potters Bar, Hertfordshire has been fined £160,000 and ordered to pay costs of £9,128.89 after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 4(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.

The court heard that Panther AL had contracted Mr Elmes to undertake the demolition work. However, neither the owner of the building or the contractor had applied for a road closure while undertaking the work, which put members of the public at risk.

HSE inspector Andrew Cousins said after the hearing: “Lives were put at risk when this structure uncontrollably collapsed. Clients have a responsibility to appoint competent contractors to undertake hazardous work such as demolition.

“Those in control of demolition have a responsibility to plan demolition work and to devise a safe way of working that protects both the workers and members of the public.

“The job could have been safely carried out by simply undertaking the demolition behind a substantial hoarding.”

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