William Eichler 10 August 2018

Council faces legal action over pothole death

Council faces legal action over pothole death image

Warwickshire County Council is facing possible legal action after delays in repairing a pothole led to the death of a cyclist.

The triathlete Kate Vanloo died in 2016 after she hit a pothole in the road and was thrown from her bike into the path of an oncoming car.

An inquest into Ms Vanloo’s death, held in September 2017, found the pothole was 10 centimetres deep and covered by a puddle.

The inquest heard that the pothole had been identified by an inspection in March 2015 and again in September 2015.

Warwickshire CC had a contract with Balfour Beatty Living Places to deliver highway maintenance inspections and repairs. Balfour Beatty, in turn, subcontracted the road repair work to CR MacDonald Limited.

The council’s policy required that ‘category 2’ potholes were repaired within 28 days of identification, the inquest found.

However, for financial reasons repair works were suspended between the end of July and the end of September 2015.

The pothole was then due to be repaired in November 2015. However, a hole three miles away was repaired instead and the error was not picked up until after Ms Vanloo’s death.

Following the inquest, a Prevention of Future Deaths (PFD) report from John Buckley, the assistant coroner for Warwickshire, demanded action from the county council to reduce the delays in repairing potholes.

‘In my opinion urgent action should be taken to prevent future deaths and I believe you and your organisation have the power to take such action,’ he wrote.

‘The action should include an explanation of the steps you have taken to speed up the time it takes to repair potholes once they have been identified and what steps you have taken to track the progress of work orders that have been sent to Balfour Beatty Living Places for action.’

Responding to the PFD report, Monica Fogarty, the joint managing director of the county council, wrote that the authority is working on ensuring work orders relating to fixing potholes are issued promptly and that ‘any slippage by Balfour Beatty is quickly detected and pursued.’

The law firm Leigh Day said this week that they were ‘investigating further legal action against the council’ on behalf of Ms Vanloo’s family.

A spokesperson for Warwickshire County Council said: 'We are not able to discuss details as this is a private matter for the family.

'Using improvements in technology and systems we are working closely with our contractors to help make sure that repair jobs are passed over as quickly as possible and tightly monitored to ensure that they do the job correctly and promptly.

'Whilst nothing can make up for the loss this family have suffered we are doing all we can to keep road users safe so tragedies such as this can be avoided.'

SIGN UP
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Independent non-executive members of proposed NHS Integrated Care Boards

NHS
Competitive
Do you have the vision to shape the future of health and care for people in your area? Nationwide
Recuriter: NHS

Lead Community Protection Officer

Royal Borough of Greenwich
£37722 - £40869 per annum + value award of £2,472 per annum
2 x Lead Community Protection OfficersCommunity Protection Team(PO3 plus an incremental value award of £2,472 per annum) Permanent Our Community Prote England, London, Woolwich
Recuriter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

School Organisation Project Officer

Camden London Borough Council
£41,952- £48,663
We’re giving a platform to people inside and outside our community. Because, we’re not just home to the UK’s fast-growing economy. Camden, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Camden London Borough Council

Service Manager (Referral and Assessment)

London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth
£60,426 to £74,202 per annum
Can you inspire, encourage, and develop excellent social work practice to make a real difference in the lives of children and young people? Wandsworth, London (Greater)
Recuriter: London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth

Asset Management Team Administrator

The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council
£26,544 - £30,618 per annum
The role is what you make it, and the more you put in, the bigger the difference you can make to... Kensington and Chelsea, London (Greater)
Recuriter: The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council

Public Property

Latest issue - Public Property News

This issue of Public Property examines how how flexible workspaces can lead the way in regeneration for local authorities, Why local authority intervention is key to successful urban regeneration schemes and if the Government’s challenge of embracing beauty is an opportunity for communities.

The March issue also takes a closer look at Blackburn with Darwen Council's first digital health hub to help people gain control over health and care services.

Register for your free digital issue