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Council fined £1.4m as child suffers serious head injury

A six-year old child has been left with life-changing injuries after a string of failures by Hampshire County Council.

The girl was visiting Lymington with her family when she climbed on a cast iron bollard on a cobbled pedestrianised street. The bollard, which weighed around 69kg, fell over, taking the child with it, causing her head injuries, which were initially thought to be life-threatening.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive found that the bollard was damaged and had not been secured properly. The fault had been reported to the council but a series of failures in information sharing, training and instruction meant that the highway’s department only carried out ad-hoc inspections in the area and the repair was missed.

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.”

Hampshire County Council was found guilty of breaching Health and Safety regulations and was fined £1.4m and ordered to pay costs of over £130,000.

In addition, there could also be substantial personal injury compensation payable.

Personal injury solicitor, Diane Parker, commented on the case: “This is a tragic incident that really should not have happened. The council had been made aware that the bollard was not properly secured and systematic failures meant that repairs were not carried out. As a result, this little girl suffered a brain injury, the extent of which will not be properly known for several years yet.”

In cases such as this, medical and educational experts will be required to assess the extent of the injuries and the impact these will have on the child’s future. These cases are inevitably lengthy as it is necessary to wait for the condition to settle to be able to gain a full appreciation of the injury.

Image: HSE press release


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