Posted on Wednesday 22nd December 2021
The court heard the tree in question had not been subject to proactive maintenance.
A local authority has been fined after the death of a passer-by in a freak accident.
Mr Neville Scattergood, aged 58, died of his injuries after being hit by the falling bough of an oak tree while walking along the Isabel Trail, a footpath off Eccleshall Road, Stafford, in October 2019.
Today Staffordshire County Council was fined £300,000 at Newcastle Magistrates’ Court and ordered to pay costs of £13,165, plus a victim surcharge of £181 after admitting one breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act at a previous hearing.
The court was told that the tree alongside the footpath had not been part of a planned inspection programme since 2009 – though it was accepted that reactive maintenance had been carried out in the area whenever concerns were reported.
Speaking after the hearing, Alan White, Leader of Staffordshire County Council, said:
On behalf of Staffordshire County Council I would like to offer my sincere condolences to the family and friends of Mr Scattergood and apologise unreservedly for the authority’s shortcomings in this case.
Although it can be no consolation to those affected, the Council has fully acknowledged its responsibility and has met its obligations to Mr Scattergood’s family at the earliest opportunity.”
I once presented Mr Scattergood an award for his work helping others and the death in this way of someone you have met is a stark reminder of the responsibilities we carry as a council.
Following this terrible incident, we have reviewed our system of checks and maintenance planning and done all we can to improve it.”
At an inquest held in June this year into the death of Stafford resident Mr Scattergood, South Staffordshire Coroner Andrew Haigh recorded a verdict of accidental death.