Cinema owner fined over asbestos risks during demolition work

The scales of justice
The scales of justice

The owner of The Rex cinema in Berkhamsted has been fined more than £11,000 after he put workers and members of the public at risk from asbestos.

James Hannaway, 68, of Waterside, Berkhamsted, first ordered the demolition of a derelict 10-screen cinema on London Road, St Albans in in 2010 without conducting the proper checks for asbestos.

Prolonged exposure to asbestos fibres has been linked to fatal illnesses such as lung cancer, and as a consequence its use in the construction industry was banned outright in the 1990s.

Stevenage Magistrates’ Court heard that in April 2012, Mr Hannaway asked around 30 members of the public to get rid of the demolition debris over the course of two days.

An asbestos survey was eventually carried out in early October 2012, which found evidence of asbestos in the building following the debris removal, and warned that no-one should enter the affected areas.

Despite this, the court was told Mr Hannaway was seen taking people into the 
building – now the refurbished cinema The Odyssey – to view the ongoing work.

Mr Hannaway pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, Regulation 5 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 and Regulation 16 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.

He was fined £11,660 by the Health and Safety Executive and ordered to pay a 
further £7,000 in costs.