A well known North Devon hotelier has been fined £80,000 after materials contained asbestos were disturbed during major refurbishment at The Park Hotel in Barnstaple.

Percy Brend and Sons Hoteliers of Taw Vale, Barnstaple, have admitted Health and Safety at Work breaches and were fined £80,000 and ordered to pay £15,000 costs.

South Devon Magistrates Court heard that between October 2016 and May 2017 construction work was underway to refurbish the hotel on Taw Vale.

The project was to refit and refurbish bathrooms and bedrooms.

A Health and Safety Executive investigation found that at an early stage a worker raised concerns about the potential presence of asbestos in the rooms being refurbished.

An external contractor also raised concerns but testing of the material being disturbed did not happen until February 2017 and the presence of asbestos confirmed.

Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Jo-Anne Michael said: “The dangers associated with asbestos are well known and a wealth of advice and guidance is freely available from HSE and other organisations.

“Identification of the hazard is key. Duty holders should not undertake any work which either exposes or is liable to expose their employees to asbestos unless they have carried out a suitable and sufficient assessment as to the presence, location and condition of asbestos in the premises.

“Those persons tasked with undertaking the assessment should have the necessary skills.”