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Housing company fined after balcony collapses in Blackpool

A resident of Newby Place flats in Blackpool could have been seriously injured when a second floor walkway collapsed from beneath him.

What happened?

Andrew Bleasedale was entering his front door in May 2012, when he felt the balcony floor below him move. As he jumped into his flat, he looked behind him and saw that the floor had collapsed.

An investigation into the incident found that Blackpool Coastal Housing Ltd had known that the walkways in that building were dangerous for several years, but had not put any measures in place to make them safe for residents.

The court heard that the firm had taken over responsibility for the flats from Blackpool Borough Council five years before. Though many structural problems were identified by a structural engineer organised by the council previously, Blackpool Coastal Housing failed to carry out any repairs.

Another structural engineering consultant was brought in a year later in September 2008 to design a temporary propping solution for the balconies but, once again, the safety recommendations were not implemented.

Work to replace the balconies was finally commissioned in in 2012, but although the site manager had reported concerns that all the balconies of the flats may be unsafe, the firm once again failed to take action.

During the investigation into the incident, documents showing that the company were aware of safety failings were recovered from as far back as February 2006.

What was the outcome?

Blackpool Coastal Housing Ltd pleaded guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, was fined £50,000 and ordered to pay £27,821.25 in prosecution costs after.

Afterwards Mr Bleasedale 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 to
he wall because of the slope.

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

“After the collapse, I was put into a guesthouse for several
months and stayed in a total of five different rooms,
which totally unsettled me. The whole affair
completely ruined my summer and my
daughter’s 21st birthday.

“Newby Place was a good community. People were friendly with
each other and often my neighbours would sit outside
their front doors chatting, so it’s a
miracle no one was hurt.”

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