Midhurst man calls for rethink on pavement policy

Graham Pooley with the broken paving stone in Knockhundred Row
Graham Pooley with the broken paving stone in Knockhundred Row

A Midhurst man is calling for a rethink on pavement policy after his wife fell and West Sussex County Council (WSCC) refused to carry out repairs.

The accident happened in Knockhundred Row more than a year ago when Rosemary Pooley tripped over a broken paving slab.

Fortunately she was not badly injured but when her husband, Graham, contacted the county council to point out the danger, he was infuriated to be told it did not meet the county council’s criteria for repair work.

He was told the county council did not have to act unless the damage met its ‘minimum intervention level’ criteria of 20mms.

Mr Pooley said the damage was now getting worse and on the night of Midhurst’s Christmas street party: “There were dozens of people who were almost tripping on it.

“The broken slab is a danger and the county council is basically saying they don’t care because their policy safeguards them against getting sued if anyone is hurt.”

Last March area highway manager Ben Whiffin told Mr Pooley: “Accidents are part of everyday life and the county council is unable to legislate for every eventuality. The fact an accident occurs on the highway does not necessarily mean there is any liability on the part of the county council.”

But, he said an accident was always investigated to ensure the risk was reduced as much as reasonably possible.

He said the highways authority met its duty to maintain pavements through its ‘safety plus inspection policy’.

“This stipulates the different types of defects likely to occur and at which level they are deemed to pose a hazard to users.”

He said an inspection where Mrs Pooley fell ‘did not identify any defect requiring repair.

“The policy is robust, strikes a balance between cost effectiveness and safety and has been recognised in court on numerous occasions as an effective way of meeting the duty put on WSCC.”

But Mr Pooley said: “The pavement is still a danger which is worsening and the county council has not done all it reasonably can to eliminate it.”

He called for a rethink on the policy to ‘truly reflect the obligations of the council and its staff towards public safety’.

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