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Public pathways: Councils face claims for hundreds of accidents in Dorset

FATAL TUMBLE: Charles Hurst, 87, above, fell over block paving in Poole High Street

FATAL TUMBLE: Charles Hurst, 87, above, fell over block paving in Poole High Street

First published in News by

HUNDREDS of claims have been made by people who have tripped, slipped or fallen on roads and pavements in Dorset over the last few years.

The figures were revealed to the Daily Echo following this week’s inquest into the accidental death of a pensioner who tripped over loose paving stones in Poole High Street while Christmas shopping.

Charles Hurst, of Hamworthy, sustained a fatal head injury when he fell – on the same day inspectors from Poole Council and Wessex Water decided that the loose stones around two metal stopcock inspection covers did not warrant urgent repair.

During the inquest, Mr Hurst’s grieving widow Doris attacked the council for leaving ‘potholes’ in the High Street and accused it of being responsible for his death.

Between April 2008 and the end of February this year, Poole Council received a total of 67 insurance claims for slips, trips and falls, while Bournemouth Council had 129 claims, excluding those for slipping on ice or snow. Dorset’s tally was 198, but included claims for ice and snow.

After Mr Hurst’s inquest, a spokesman for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents said: “We know that slips and trips can have more severe consequences for older people. Once a maintenance issue with an area has been identified, those responsible for the area need to take action to get it fixed within a reasonable time, and a schedule for completing jobs, based on prioritisation, needs to be set.

“For example, we would expect things like missing drain covers to be replaced straight away and for other tasks to also be completed in order of priority.”

Public paths should be free from danger

Councils are responsible for making sure pavements on public streets are free from trip hazards.

This includes removing weeds, replacing broken or stolen slabs, supplying grit in icy conditions, and keeping pavements clear of snow. Pavements or footways may become damaged when a utility company (gas, electric, telecoms, water) carries out work.

The company is responsible for providing a safe route for pedestrians and other traffic to pass, and for making sure the pavement is left in good condition after the work is completed.

Problems with a pavement, or an injury caused by one, can be reported online at or by telephoning your local council.

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