Kaikohe pub gets fire safety ultimatum

By Peter de Graaf

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Kaikohe's best-known pub has been ordered to shape up or shut down after failing a fire safety inspection.


The Kaikohe Hotel has been given ten working days to fix a raft of fire safety defects and produce a ''building Warrant of Fitness'' or it will be boarded up.


A Far North District Council officer visited the pub on Thursday, accompanied by a police escort, to serve notices under sections 124 and 125 of the Building Act.


Those notices give pub operator Neal Summers and building owner Cameron Enterprises until 5pm on December 14 to put the problems right.


Council spokesman Richard Edmondson said the owner was supposed to provide a building Warrant of Fitness in June, as required annually for every commercial building, but had failed to do so.


As a result a fire risk management officer from Auckland, accompanied by a council staff member, carried out an inspection of the pub earlier this month and discovered serious fire safety deficiencies.


The Fire Service had then declared the two-storey pub a dangerous building under section 121 of the Building Act.


Council chief executive David Edmunds said the council regretted having to issue a business with a dangerous building notice, but it had a legal duty to make sure commercial buildings were safe for public use.


''This is a last resort that's ultimately about ensuring the safety of hotel guests, staff and customers,'' he said.


As well as a pub and pokies, the building houses Mr Summers' flat and accommodation for backpackers and long-term tenants.


Mr Edmondson said the Northland District Health Board was ready to re-house any residents with special needs.


If the defects were not fixed the council could apply to the courts for an injunction ordering the building be vacated and boarded up. It could also seek an order that Mr Summers and Cameron Enterprises carry out the work, or have it done at their expense.


The fix-it or close order is not Mr Summers' only brush with the authorities in Northland.


In 2008 he was the first Northland publican to be prosecuted under the Smokefree Environments Act for allegedly allowing smoking inside.


However, Mr Summers appealed the conviction and record fine and, after a series of delays, the prosecution was dropped in April this year.


He is currently fighting fines for riding his Segway motorised scooter on the footpath in Kerikeri last year.


Mr Summers argues it is a mobility scooter, which he needs because injuries sustained when he was run over by a mobile home prevent him walking far. Police, however, say it is a motor vehicle which should not be used on the footpath.


He lost an initial defended hearing but his $1150 fine was refunded and 15 demerit points cancelled when he won a re-hearing.


The New Zealand Transport Agency is having the Segway tested by experts at Auckland University, whose findings will determine whether it is classed as a motor vehicle or a mobility scooter.


The case is being followed keenly around the country because the legal status of Segways in New Zealand law is unclear.


According to the Companies Office, Cameron Enterprises' sole director is Frances MacCulloch of Auckland. The sole shareholder is the estate of Zita Cameron, formerly of Whangaroa.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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