Lancaster slips, trips and falls cost £150,000 in payouts

Market Square in Lancaster
Market Square in Lancaster

More than £150,000 has been paid out in compensation for slips, trips and falls in Lancaster over the past five years, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.

Some 160 incidents of broken bones, whiplash, snapped ligaments and cuts and bruises have been reported to Lancashire County and Lancaster City Councils since 2011, with the highest single claim resulting in a £17,431 payout.

Market Square, Lancaster

Market Square, Lancaster

Nine incidents, one of them resulting in serious injury, were recorded in Market Square since October 2014, coinciding with the new surfacing which was laid as part of the city council’s Square Routes project.

There were no incidents recorded prior to that date.

Lancashire County Council said there were “specific issues” affecting Market Square.

A Freedom of Information request submitted to both councils reveals the scale of the payouts, and the number of incidents amounting to an average of more than two per month.

The Save The Lancaster Limes Demostration in Lancaster City Centre

The Save The Lancaster Limes Demostration in Lancaster City Centre

However only 25 reported incidents resulted in a successful payout.

Lancaster City Council paid out more than £5,000 for a slip which caused a fracture on Millennium Bridge in 2011, however the council would not reveal the exact amount.

Lancashire County Council paid out more than £33,000 for just two incidents which happened in September 2012.

An incident on September 15 resulted in a £17,431.43 payout to someone who fractured their wrist due to an injury in Ridge Street, while an incident in South Road on September 29 involving a fractured wrist and kneecap resulted in a £15,700 payout.

A badly grazed nose and left knee, and damage to spectacles following an incident in Dallas Road on May 12 2011 resulted in a £50 payout.

Questions have been raised recently about the danger posed by seven lime trees which have been growing in Market Square for 40 years.

Lancaster City Council proposed felling the trees earlier this year.

It cited several issues including sap secreting aphids feeding off the leaves, which it claims makes the new paving more slippery in wet weather, and therefore more of a danger for pedestrians.

But a high profile public campaign scuppered the plans, and the county and city councils now say they are looking at alternative solutions.

Cherry Canovan, who spearheaded the campaign, said: “These figures don’t demonstrate that there is a problem with the trees - it is just as likely to be a problem with the slippy new surface that many people have already commented on.

“My husband called an ambulance for an elderly gentleman who had fallen just recently, on the area of new paving just up from Horseshoe Corner.

“...The trees only drop leaves/secretions at certain times of year. At the moment the trees are dormant - but the square is still slippy!”

Dan Chalmers, Lancaster Area Highways Manager for Lancashire County Council, said: “Market Square is managed by the city council, under an agreement with us. Any claims for a fall or trip would generally come to the county council to investigate.

“We’ve had one claim for a serious injury on Market Square.

“This is currently being looked into, so we cannot give further details about this particular case. We’ve also had nine recorded instances of slips or falls on Market Square dating from October 2014 to December 2015.

“However there have only been two other cases elsewhere in the pedestrian area.

“This shows that there are specific issues affecting Market Square, and we’re currently working with our colleagues from the city council to look at the options.

“We work hard to reduce the risk of incidents occurring, with an ongoing programme of monitoring and inspection.

“We discuss any concerns with the city council and, where necessary, carry out work to reduce the chance of incidents happening.”