Firm does not defend �39m pier claim

A JUDGE has indicated that the Grand Pier’s owners could be awarded tens of millions of pounds today (Thurs) over the fire that devastated the Weston attraction in 2008.

The landmark’s owners Kerry and Michelle Michael have been locked in legal disputes with two firms they say were employed to monitor the pier’s fire alarms.

Yeoman Monitoring Services of Essex and System 2 Security of Locking Road in Weston were jointly subject to a legal claim for �39million.

The claim against Yeoman Monitoring was settled privately, with no admission of liability, earlier this year.

But the case against System 2 Security, which chose not to defend the claim before the judge this week, has been heard over the past few days at Bristol Mercantile Court.

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It was indicated by the judge, His Honour Judge Havelock-Allan, on Tuesday that the claim would go in the Grand Pier owners’ favour, but as the Mercury went to press they had not received written confirmation of a successful claim.

The Michaels, the claimants, say the two firms failed to respond when alarms first sounded at 1.35am on the day of the fire – with no 999 calls made until nearly 7am.

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The claim suggests the Grade II-listed pavilion, which is protected by English Heritage, may have been saved if the alarm had been sounded sooner.

Court papers said: “(The fire) was of course in a much more advanced state than it would have been if the fire service had been called to attend shortly after the fire alarm was first triggered.

“The pavilion on the pier was irretrievably set alight and was entirely lost to the fire.

“It is of the essence with a fire alarm that any triggering of it cannot be ignored and has to be addressed immediately, not least due to the risk of injury to individuals and extensive damage to property.”

Yeoman Monitoring Services was a sub-contractor of System 2 Security.

During a case management hearing at the Mercantile Court in Bristol last year, evidence showed both defendants agree that System 2 Security Ltd sub-contracted the other firm and then instructed it to take the pier off fire service notification in 2007 when it was under previous ownership.

But in July 2008, when fire ripped through the attraction’s pavilion, Yeomans says it had never been told to reinstate it.

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