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.'

SIGN UP
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Mayoralty & Business Manager

London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth
£41,292 - £50,034
The Mayoralty & Business Manager will be responsible for maintaining the reputation of both Mayoralties and promoting a positive image of... London (Greater)
Recuriter: London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth

Joint Assistant Director - Communities and Wellbeing

Babergh & Mid Suffolk
£75,000
Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils are at the forefront of joint working and are a progressive award-winning partnership Ipswich, Suffolk
Recuriter: Babergh & Mid Suffolk

Customer Services Assistant - Annualised Hours

Essex County Council
£18029 - £19329 per annum
Customer Services Assistant - Annualised HoursPermanent, Part Timeup to £19,329 per annum pro rataLocation
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Customer Services Assistant - Annualised Hours

Essex County Council
£18039 - £19329 per annum
Customer Services Assistant - Annualised HoursPermanent, Part Timeup to £19,329 per annum pro rataLocation
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Practice Supervisor - Children & Families Service - Northallerton

North Yorkshire County Council
£39,880 - £43,857 per annum pro rata + relocation support
An exciting position has arisen for an enthusiastic, well-motivated Practice Supervisor to join the Northallerton team. White Rose House, Northallerton. We very much promote flexible working with the ability to work remotely from a variety of bases as well as from home, whatever makes sense and is suitable to provide the best service.
Recuriter: North Yorkshire 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