Your Housing Group and repairs contractor Morgan Sindall Property Services deny breaking law over Crewe fire

A housing association and the repairs arm of Morgan Sindall have pleaded not guilty to breaking fire safety laws in relation to a blaze that destroyed a Cheshire retirement village.

Your Housing Group (YHG), which manages more than 26,000-homes, along with its subsidiary Avantage (Cheshire) Ltd and Morgan Sindall Property Services, entered not guilty pleas on Monday.

Three further companies; consulting giant WSP, Total Fire Group and MAC Roofing Contractors, gave no indication of a plea at the hearing at Warrington Magistrates Court.

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Source: Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service

The fire in August 2019 left 150 residents without a home

The Beechmere retirement village in Crewe was destroyed by a fire on 8 August, 2019, with 150 residents losing their homes.

Cheshire Fire & Rescue Service, which brought the case, said it has also discovered other potential breaches of the law at another retirement village in nearby Winsford. Your Housing Group, Avantage and Total Fire Group are all also facing charges relating to this scheme.

Your Housing, which was the ‘responsible person’ for fire safety at the Beechmere scheme, faces 16 charges in total under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety Order) 2005 relating to Beechmere and Hazlemere.

These include failures to prevent fire spread, to sufficiently assess fire risk, to adopt adequate evacuation procedures and failures around providing information and training and maintaining facilities for firefighters.

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PFI firm Avantage, which is facing 14 charges, was contracted to procure the design, build and finance of Beechmere and operate the village. Morgan Sindall Property Services was Avantage’s contractor responsible for responsive repairs and cyclical maintenance.

WSP, which is facing two charges, was contracted to produce a fire strategy for the scheme. Fire protection consultant Total Fire Group was contracted to carry out fire risk assessments and is facing eight charges while MAC Roofing Contractors has been hit with nine charges.

All six firms are accused of breaches to the Fire Safety (Regulatory Reform) Order 2005 and will appear at Chester Crown Court on 14 November.