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Chinese restaurant shut down over gas safety fears

The importance of gas safety has been highlighted with the closure of a Chinese restaurant based in Preston, which was branded a 'death trap' by gas safety officials.

Those running a commercial premises such as an eatery have a responsibility to maintain the gas safety of the venue, to ensure both their safety and the safety of their customers.

The China House on Aqueduct Street was discovered to have been breaching numerous gas safety regulations, and had leaking gas pipes, unsafe electrical wiring and fire doors that had been screwed shut.

The investigation also found that the owners of the restaurant, Wen Qiang Cai and Yun Qin Weng, were cooking using bottled gas that was connected to the main gas supply using leaky washing machine hoses. The restaurant also had no escape route for staff or customers in the event of an emergency.

The owners were accused of putting "profit before safety" following the discovery of the gas safety breaches. The venue's operating licence was revoked at a court hearing, after councillors learned that the fire and police services had asked the owners to address the safety breaches for five years, but nothing had been done.

Lancashire Police sergeant, John Lovick, told the Lancashire Evening Post: “In the five full years we have been working with the China House, no premises in the city have caused us as many concerns and been such a threat to public safety.”

Michael Walker, fire safety officer, agreed, saying: “This is only the second time in ten years that the fire authority has supported the revocation of a licence, but these premises have created an inordinate amount of problems for us since 2009.”

Commercial buildings, non-domestic and multi-occupancy premises in England and Wales must by law carry out a 'suitable and sufficient' fire risk assessment under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

Failure to do so can result in the owners of the venue facing an unlimited fine or a prison sentence of up to two years.