Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Lymington bollard: Council fined £1.4m over girl's injury

Scene showing safety fence where the toppled bollard used to be
Image caption Floral tributes were left on a remaining bollard in Quay Hill after the damaged one was removed

A council has been fined £1.4m after a six-year-old girl was injured while playing on a street bollard that had been secured with cable ties.

The girl, now aged 10, was climbing on the structure when it toppled over in Lymington, Hampshire, in December 2015.

She suffered critical head injuries and still requires care, a court heard.

Hampshire County Council, which had known the bollard was damaged, was previously found guilty by a jury of a health and safety offence.

Image copyright Health and Safety Executive
Image caption The girl was playing on the bollard on the left when it toppled over

The iron bollard in Quay Hill was hit by a van a few weeks before the accident, local residents previously said.

The girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was visiting Lymington with her family on 28 December when she and the bollard fell to the ground.

She spent six months in a critical condition in hospital and still cannot attend mainstream schools, Bournemouth Crown Court heard.

Image copyright Health and Safety Executive
Image caption The damaged bollard had been secured with cable ties

In a victim-impact statement, the girl's family said: "Everything we now do is defined by that one moment. Our lives changed forever.

"We no longer know if she will pass exams, get a job or be able to live on her own. We spend our lives feeling guilty."

'Easily preventable'

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said the accident was "easily preventable".

HSE inspector, Angela Sirianni, said: "Council inspections failed to identify this risk over a long period of time and then, when alerted to the damage... failed to take the urgent action required."

In a statement, Hampshire County Council said it deeply regretted the "exceptional and unfortunate incident".

The authority said: "Our officers followed the county council's policies and procedures in force at the time.

"However, the court found that these procedures fell short of requirements, arising from [a] change in government policy - from a national framework to an approach... which is more locally determined."

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites