Laura Sharman 21 July 2020

Council fined after fatal tree branch accident

Council fined after fatal tree branch accident image

Wirral Borough Council has been fined £100,000 after a pregnant woman lost her baby when a tree branch fell and hit her moving vehicle.

The woman, who was 36 weeks pregnant, was struck in the stomach after a large branch fell from a tree while she was driving her two other children to school.

Elizabeth Stear was taken to hospital where her baby was delivered by an emergency caesarean, but sadly only lived for 15 hours.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the council failed to identify and manage the risks from falling trees and branches. It also failed to properly inspect trees despite a similar incident occurring in January 2015.

The council pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £100,000 and ordered to pay costs of £49,363.

HSE inspector, Rohan Lye, said: 'There are no winners in this sad case. councils have a duty to proactively assess and control risks to members of the public. This tragedy could so easily have been avoided if the risk had been identified, warnings had been heeded and an adequate tree management system had been implemented.'

Cllr Julie McManus, Wirral Council cabinet member for community services, said: 'I would like to reiterate my deepest sympathies to Mr and Mrs Stear and their family. I know there are no words that could make things any better for the family, but on behalf of Wirral Council I would like to apologise unreservedly for the failings which contributed to their tragic loss.

'The issues that were highlighted as a result of the investigation that followed Lucia’s death – and which formed the basis of this case - have led to substantial investment by Wirral Council in how it now manages tree inspections.'

Roads to recovery image

Roads to recovery

Alex Glassbrook explores if councils were legally allowed to make amendments to traffic regulation orders in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
SIGN UP
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Occupational Therapist

Brent Council
£29,766 - £30,711
We are particularly interested in... Redbridge, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Brent Council

Communications Manager

Camden London Borough Council
£40,829 – £47,360
We are looking for an experienced Communications Manager to provide strategic communications to support our... Camden, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Camden London Borough Council

Property Administrator

Camden London Borough Council
£28,573 - £30,808
To succeed, you will contribute to the pro-active provision of a full office management function. Camden, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Camden London Borough Council

Senior Practitioner - Family Support & Protection - Chelmsford

Essex County Council
£39168.0 - £47405.0 per annum + Plus Excellent Benefits Package
The Senior Practitioner is responsible for the management of their own cases and support of social work staff in the management of complex Child Protection and Child in Need Cases, or Children Looked After. England, Essex, Chelmsford
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Advanced Skills Worker - Longwood Place

Essex County Council
£26801 - £30906 per annum
This is a part time role for 21 hours a week.Interviews will take place via video calling.Essex County Council (ECC) is one of the largest and most dy England, Essex
Recuriter: Essex County 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