Blackpool's South Pier bosses in court

Members of the public were exposed to a 'major health risk.'

The owners of a the iconic South Pier in Blackpool put the public’s health at major risk when they broke laws as they demolished an asbestos lined arcade.

Asbestos fibres were allowed to float along the Promenade and holidaymakers were allowed into the arcade where the work was being done.

Blackpool Magistrates heard how the pier’s owner cut corners on cost as a circus style roof above the main landward arcade was removed.

At one stage a director of the  owners - The Blackpool Pier Company - became involved in what the court heard was a heated argument over the firm’s loss of revenue, when an official notice was served closing down areas of the pier when the illegal contamination was discovered.

Lynda Bennett, prosecuting for Blackpool Council said:

”Their culpability was very high. The removal of asbestos was unsafe and uncontrolled. There was a major health risk on their hands to the public and the three men who worked on it.”

“The clean up team worked day and night on 12 shifts to accomplish this,” she added.

She said the pier company had been a £16,000 quote from a company licenced to remove  the dangerous asbestos legally.

However the council’s health and safety officers discovered that three employees of the pier had started the removal over a weekend.

“When council staff found asbestos on machines and one the Promenade an prohibition notice was served on the company closing areas down,” said the prosecutor

“The three members had used a Hoover to clean asbestos from the arcade carpet.”

“However there was a major health risk to the public who could have been exposed to asbestos fibres as well as the three employees who had not been trained of equipped in a suitable manner”

Defence lawyer Peter Gilmore told the magistrates:

"The defendants accept there was not a proper plan or training in place.”

“They do however, disagree on the level of culpability although serious errors did take place.”

The magistrates ordered pre sentence reports to be prepared on Fiona Blaylock and Peter Sedgewick jnr.

The sentencing hearing on the duo and the company involved will take place at Preston Crown Court on December 4th.

The two accused were given unconditional bail until that date.

Company finance director 44 year old Fiona Blaylock of Arthurs Lane, Hambleton admitted one offence of failing to ensure the health and safety of the firm’s employees.

Fellow director 39 year old Peter Sedgewick of Crane Hall Farm, Out Rawcliffe pleaded guilty to the same offence.

The company they are directors of  The Blackpool Pier Company pleaded guilty to eight offences.

They were failing to ensure the health and safety of their employees, failing to ensure the health and safety of  the public, and allowing the release of asbestos fibres into the atmosphere.

The company, based on Church Street, also  admitted three charges of conniving to commit offences, failing to provide a plan of work being done on the pier and failing to give guidance and instruction for the control of asbestos.

Charges against another man, were dropped.


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