A DEVELOPMENT firm has been fined £20,000 and ordered to pay costs of more than £15,000 after failing to ensure asbestos was removed safely during the demolition of the Buttercross Works in Witney.

RP Baker (Oxford) Ltd was prosecuted by West Oxfordshire District Council after the Health & Safety Executive investigated the demolition of the former blanket mill in September 2012.

The company pleaded guilty at Banbury Magistrates’ Court on June 24 to breaching its duty of care under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

As well as the fine, magistrates ordered the firm to pay costs of £15,260 and a victim surcharge of £120.

West Oxfordshire District Council has now issued a reminder to businesses and householders of the risks that are posed by asbestos when doing building work.

If inhaled, asbestos fibres can lead to life-threatening diseases.

The material was widely used in construction until the 1970s and laws requiring that asbestos be removed and disposed of safely are now in force.

David Harvey, the council’s cabinet member for environment, said: “If you think there may be a chance that asbestos is present, please seek expert advice before carrying out any work.”