December 13, 2019

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In court

Hampshire County Council fined £1.4m after six-year-old sustains serious head injury

Hampshire County Council has been fined after a six-year-old girl playing on an unsecured street bollard suffered a life-changing head injury.

Hampshire County Council fined £1.4mBournemouth Crown Court was told how, on 28 December 2015, 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.

The HSE’s investigation found that the bollard – which weighed approximately 69kg – was damaged and not appropriately secured. This 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.

Hampshire County Council of The Castle, Winchester, Hampshire was found guilty of breaching Section 3(1) of Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £1.4m with full costs of £130,632.

Speaking after the case, HSE Inspector Angela Sirianni said: “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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4 years ago

This comes as little surprise, given Hampshire’s appalling road/street safety and maintenance. Potholes are a significant problem, but simply enforcing the Law , primarily the Highways Act 1980 Section 137, Highways Act 1980 Section 148, Highways Act Section 149 and Highways Act 1980 Section 161 are routinely ignored, endangering many vulnerable road users, unlike Somerset where strict enforcement pays safety dividends.