Former owner of Tokyo York fined £76,000 for past fire safety breaches

Broken fire alarms and poor emergency lighting cited as some of the key health and safety breaches at York nightclub

Image: Lucy Dixon

Image: Lucy Dixon

The former owner of the Tokyo nightclub, which has since closed down and been replaced by Fibbers, has been fined £76,000 for breaches in fire safety regulations.
Aaron Mellor, from Manchester, also owned another club in Lincoln in which fire safety breaches also took place. Mellor’s company, Tokyo Industries Ltd, was fined £30,000 for similar offenses. Tokyo Industries and Mellor were ordered to pay a total of £67,000 in prosecution fees.
In the York club there was no working fire alarm at one point, and in the Lincoln club the fire exits were found to be blocked. Mellor, 45, was sentenced on Monday 5 October at Lincoln Crown Court after being found guilty of 11 offenses, and admitting three offenses relating to the York club.
The Recorder of York, Judge Stephen Ashurst, said: “Those likely to have been most affected would have been a large number of young people, many of whom would be vulnerable in the sense of having their judgement and faculties affected by alcohol”.
The court was told that Tokyo in York was visited several times by fire safety officers between 2013 and 2014.
The North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service raised concerns over the emergency lighting system, fire alarm and fire detection system.  The fire risk assessment for the property was also deemed to be inadequate. There was also concern that the designated smoking area was next to a diesel generator.
Mellor said after the court case: “These incidents relate to occurrences in early 2013. We totally accept that the findings of that night were unacceptable and local management failed to address key issues. Guest and staff safety is something we have always held in high regard.”
“Following this incident, our systems have been further strengthened to ensure failures of this type are unable to be repeated. Both sites ceased trading in May 2013 and have since been re-let following full refurbishments with over £1m being invested.
“All venues have been subjected to increased scrutiny from internal compliance teams and fire services, with all venues now performing beyond expected standards.”
Fibbers moved from Stonebow House to Tokyo’s venue on Toft Green in summer 2014, following the announcement that Tokyo was set to close.
Tokyo Industries runs 22 music venues in the Midlands and North of England. Mellor also owns Black Orchid Lap Dancing and Stein Bier Keller in York.
A third-year English and Politics student commented: “I’m surprised to see that Tokyo would leave their fire safety protection systems so poorly maintained.
“Fire safety is especially important for a club and I dread to think what would have happened if a fire had broken out when the club was packed full of students.
“Having said that, it’s not much of a shock to see the former owner fined, especially when you take into account some of the events that occurred on the  old Thursday nights there.”
Tokyo came under scrutiny in February 2014 when it emerged that a student stripped to his boxers and licked whipped cream off his nipples on one of the YUSU endorsed ‘I Love Tokyo Thursdays’ nights.
In June 2014, Tokyo was dropped as one of YUSU’s official student nights as a result of poor access and JCRC opinions.
Later in the year, Fibbers took over the Toft Green club’s site and has since hosted the official students’ Thursday club night.

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