HAMPSHIRE County Council has today been fined £1.4m following an accident caused by a defective bollard.

Earlier this year the council was found guilty of breaching health and safety rules after a six-year-old girl suffered a life-changing head injury in an incident at Quay Hill, Lymington.

The youngster was climbing on the 3ft bollard when it collapsed, causing her to hit her head.

The county council, which had been warned the bollard was faulty, was today fined £1.4m with £130,632 costs at Bournemouth Crown Court following the accident on December 28 2015.

The prosecution was brought by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Speaking after the case an HSE spokesman said the girl was visiting Lymington with her family when she climbed on to the cast iron hinged bollard on Quay Hill, a cobbled pedestrianised street.

"The bollard fell to the ground taking the child with it," he said.

"As a result she suffered serious, life-changing head injuries that were initially life-threatening and spent six months in hospital in a critical condition.

"The extent of her brain injury will not be fully known until her brain has matured.

"An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive found that the bollard, which weighed approximately 69kg, was damaged and not appropriately secured.

"This matter had been reported to Hampshire County Council prior to the incident and monthly scheduled inspections had failed to identify this.

"The investigation also found insufficient information, instruction and training were provided to the council’s highways department personnel conducting ad hoc and monthly inspections, and the inspection guidance was misleading."

HSE inspector Angela Sirianni added: “Councils have a duty to adequately assess and control risks to members of the public from street furniture.

“A child has been left with life-changing injuries as a result of what was an easily preventable incident. Council inspections failed to identify this risk over a long period of time and then, when alerted to the damage to the bollard, failed to take the urgent action required to prevent injury.”

The county council has been contacted for comment.