Owners of Blackpool pier arcade sentenced over asbestos refurbishment while still open to public

The owners of Blackpool’s South Pier, who demolished part of an asbestos-lined arcade while visitors were allowed to walk nearby, have been given 300 hours of unpaid work as the company was ordered to pay a £134,000 fine and £38,000 costs, the Blackpool Gazette has reported.

Around 600 workers and members of the public were potentially exposed to asbestos fibres from Blackpool’s South Pier after the pier’s directors, Peter Sedgwick Jr, 39, and Fiona Blaylock, 44, cut corners on cost to remove a circus style roof above the main landward arcade.

To save the £17,000 cost for a licensed firm to do the work – which would have meant losing six days trading – the duo instructed three untrained and ill-equipped employees to do the work in disposable body suits.

Preston Crown Court heard they had pulled the material away with a crow bar and by hand, filling six bin bags of waste, and used a vacuum clenaer to to remove asbestos from a carpet after the removal of the roof.

Judge Andrew Jefferies QC said they had flagrantly flouted safety laws to put cost cutting above public safety, and remarked it was “ironic” that the cost of putting the work right was far more than the “paltry” £17,000 estimate to have done the work safely.

It was later suspected an industrial skip had been used to dispose of the asbestos. There was also asbestos material found in a car park area open to the public.

The work ultimately cost the firm of £140,000 and a loss of six weeks trading.