B&NES Council must be held accountable, says fall victim after compensation claim is refused  

One of the many people who have fallen in Keynsham High Street since the layout was changed a year ago has this week spoken out after her claim for personal injury compensation was rejected.

The £1.5m High Street improvement project included widening footpaths and a contraflow cycle lane. Since then there have been numerous reports of people tripping and falling, with some needing hospital treatment for injuries including broken bones.

Bath & North East Somerset Council made some changes in the early days, installing signs advising people of the new layout and painting the cycle lane red, but the falls have continued.

Sue Hulbert, from North Common, had been shopping in Keynsham last November with her daughter when she fell as they were about to cross the High Street. She ended up “sprawled in front of a car” and suffered a sprained ankle. She was taken to Yate Minor Injury Unit with ligament damage and could not drive for six weeks.

Mrs Hulbert contacted us last week after reading the article in Issue 770 in which Keynsham councillor Alan Hale called for immediate action to tackle the ongoing issue and said that his warning at the planning stage that the cycle lane would pose a trip hazard had been dismissed by council officers.

She said: “I had a fall on Keynsham High Street due to an ‘invisible kerb’ back in November which resulted in seriously injuring my ankle requiring me to wear a medical boot for two months. I also suffered very bad bruising and cuts to my knees, hands, elbows and shoulders. I suffer from rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia so recovering from these injuries is going to be a long drawn-out process. The pain has been a constant reminder.”

She reported her fall to Keynsham Town Council and then to B&NES Council, subsequently sending a personal injury claim to B&NES in January after learning that many others had also fallen crossing the road, some at the same location as her near Greggs.

She has since heard back from the council’s insurance company who said her claim had been denied because: “The design met all the relevant planning and design requirements”; “The incident occurred in the middle of the day and therefore in daylight”; and “The location of your fall was well maintained”.

Sue Hulbert had to wear a medical boot for six weeks

Mrs Hulbert said: “So this is my fault? I have met and spoken to many people who have either tripped, witnessed or heard of people falling. I am just one of many victims who have fallen and been injured. How can they not see what a hazard the design is? Something needs to be done, they are fully aware and must be held accountable.”

The Week In has asked B&NES Council how many personal injury compensation claims have been received to date as a result of falls following the introduction of the new cyclepath. We have also asked how many of those claims have been settled and how many have been rejected. We have yet to receive a response so have this week lodged a Freedom of Information request in an attempt to get answers.

Meanwhile Wards Solicitors are taking up victims’ claims against the council.