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Balcony collapse housing provider fined £50,000 after taking ‘prolonged gamble with tenants’ safety’

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Balcony collapse housing provider fined £50,000 after taking ‘prolonged gamble with tenants’ safety’

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Health, Legal

Balcony collapse housing provider fined 50,000 after taking prolonged gamble with tenants safety Balcony collapse housing provider fined 50,000 after taking prolonged gamble with tenants safety

Image: Gavel via Shutterstock

Blackpool Borough Council's housing ALMO has been fined £50,000 for the collapse of a balcony at a block of flats.

Blackpool Coastal Housing (BCH) was found guilty of failing to carry out repair work on properties on Newby Place and Clifton Street.

Preston Crown Court heard that the walkway's 2012 collapse forced one man to jump "to save his life" while tenants living on the building's second floor had to be rescued by the fire brigade.

Some of the block's residents had reported that the walkway was dangerous back in 20005.

Judge Stuart Baker condemned the situation at the block, saying it was "an accident waiting to happen" and it was "remarkable and fortunate" no one was killed or seriously injured.

Tenant Andrew Bleasdale had just returned home on the day of the collapse, 12 May 2012.

He told the court that he had turned the key in his door when the balcony way.

Mr Bleasdale leapt into flat, said prosecutor Sophie Cartwright, before turning to see that the walkway he had been stood on moments before had disappeared.

Mr Bleasdale said: “I made complaints about the condition of the balcony several times before the collapse as it was leaning to the extent that I felt the need to walk near the wall because of the slope.

“When the balcony gave way under my feet, a gas pipe also ruptured and I could see the gas escaping. I waited in my flat and I was later rescued by the emergency services.”

BCH was given expert advice on the condition of the walkway from various sources between 2007 and 2012.

Defending, Kevin McLoughlin said BCH was "mortified, dismayed and angered by the turn of events". He added that it accepted it had made mistakes and one person had been dismissed and another resigned over the incident.

Michael Mullen, an inspector with the Health and Safety Executive, said: “It’s breath-taking that Blackpool Coastal Housing was prepared to take a prolonged gamble with the safety of its tenants at three blocks of flats.

“It is almost as if the company felt it could wipe the slate clean when it took over responsibility for managing the flats from the council in 2007, and pretend none of the problems with the properties existed.”

BCH was set up by the council in 2007 to manage its 5,500 homes.

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