Pub owner confident of return

By Peter de Graaf

The Kaikohe Hotel's embattled publican is confident he'll be back in business this week despite last week's court order that the building be boarded up.

Fire safety officials are due back at the hotel today for an inspection which could determine whether the pub can legally reopen.

Last week a High Court judge ordered the hotel's immediate closure and told its tenants to move out.

The judge acted after the Fire Service and the Far North District Council declared the two-storey wooden hotel a dangerous building on November 29, giving leasee Neal Summers and owner Cameron Enterprises 10 working days to fix fire safety defects. The faults had not been repaired by the December 14 deadline, prompting the court action.

Police and council officers visited the hotel last Tuesday to hand over the court orders and gave the tenants until noon on Wednesday to move out.

The ground floor windows were boarded up but Mr Summers was allowed to stay, despite the court order barring anyone but workers carrying out council-approved repairs.

Mr Summers told the Advocate the court order was "a blessing in disguise" because it had forced the building's owners into action. He had decided not to appeal the order and was instead working with the council. He was confident of reopening the bar this week, possibly as early as tomorrow.

Mr Summers said he was working with fire safety firm Wormald to obtain a building warrant of fitness by getting the external fire escape repaired and a new valve installed in the water main supplying the sprinkler system.

Council spokesman Richard Edmondson said Mr Summers planned to reopen the downstairs bar but not the upstairs accommodation which posed the greatest risk to life in the event of a fire.

A fire safety engineer had inspected Wormald's fire safety improvements and given his report to the council on Friday. The council had asked the Fire Service to inspect the hotel today and would then present all the information to the High Court.

It would then be up to the judge to decide whether to lift the injunction preventing unauthorised people from entering or occupying the building.

- Northern Advocate

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