Worlingham Hall, Suffolk

The company that runs Worlingham Hall, a wedding and events venue in north Suffolk, has admitted failing to comply with a Prohibition Notice and orders to improve its fire safety.

Worlingham Hall is a Grade I listed Georgian house, also used for holiday lets as well as events.

Mallard Enterprises Ltd of Beccles was issued the Prohibition Notice in April 2021 by Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service. The Notice banned guests from sleeping at the venue until works had been completed to make Worlingham Hall suitably safe.

Officers from Suffolk Fire and Rescue Services' protection team attended Worlingham Hall in September 2021 to find that a wedding was taking place, putting Mallard Enterprises in breach of the Notice. The wedding was permitted to continue after the Mallard Enterprises brought in a waking watch for overnight guests, at the request of the fire service.

Mallard Enterprises since admitted to three breaches of the notice throughout last year and four other fire safety offences, including failing to undertake a risk assessment, and a lack of appropriate fire-fighting equipment, detectors, and alarms. The company has now completed the fire safety work detailed in the Prohibition Notice to allow the venue to be used for sleeping.

When given the opportunity to own up about any additional offences, the company asked for a further 11 breaches to be taken into consideration.

Jon Lacey, Chief Fire Officer for Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service, said: "Our protection team remains committed to working with businesses across Suffolk to ensure that they meet fire regulations and are looking after the safety of their customers.

"Mallard Enterprises Ltd could not demonstrate that they were doing so, leading to the issue of the Prohibition Notice and an opportunity for them to rectify our serious concerns about fire safety.

"Unfortunately, the company had no regard to the risk of death or serious injury posed to the public, leaving us with no option but to seek a prosecution, which I’m pleased was successful."

Andrew Reid, Suffolk County Councillor, said: “This prosecution demonstrates the consequences of ignoring safety legislation, which I hope will serve as a warning to any business who has not made adequate arrangements to protect their customers from fire.

“Thanks to the tireless work of our protection team, the dangerous actions of a popular wedding and events venue have come to light and been stopped, potentially saving hundreds of lives.

“I am immensely grateful to our fire service for securing a guilty plea, and for their continued efforts to look after the health and wellbeing of Suffolk’s residents.”

Mallard Enterprises will be sentenced at Ipswich Magistrates Court at a later date.

Photo credit: Airbnb