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Sun January 26 2020

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Council fined £1.4m for street maintenance neglect

5 Dec 19 A local authority’s failure to maintain street furniture adequately left a child with a life-changing head injury, a court heard this week.

The bollards in Quay Hill, Lymington
The bollards in Quay Hill, Lymington

A six-year-old girl was playing on a street bollard in Lymington, Hampshire on 28th when it gave way due to maintenance neglect and fell to the ground.

Bournemouth Crown Court heard how the girl was visiting Lymington with her family. She climbed onto the cast iron hinged bollard on Quay Hill, a cobbled pedestrianised street. The bollard fell to the ground taking the child with it. As a result, she suffered serious, life-changing head injuries that were initially life-threatening and spent six months in hospital in a critical condition. The extent of her brain injury will not be fully known until her brain has matured.

An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found the bollard, which weighed approximately 69kg, was damaged and not appropriately secured. The matter had been reported to Hampshire County Council prior to the incident and monthly scheduled inspections had failed to identify this. The investigation also found insufficient information, instruction and training were provided to the council’s highways department personnel conducting ad hoc and monthly inspections, and the inspection guidance was misleading.

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Hampshire County Council contested the charges but was found guilty after a trial of breaching Section 3(1) of Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. It was fined £1.4m and ordered to pay full costs of £130,632.

HSE inspector Angela Sirianni said after the case: “Councils have a duty to adequately assess and control risks to members of the public from street furniture. A child has been left with life-changing injuries as a result of what was an easily preventable incident. Council inspections failed to identify this risk over a long period of time and then, when alerted to the damage to the bollard, failed to take the urgent action required to prevent injury.”

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