Fine after elderly woman killed by advertising board

February 5, 2024

The Grand Pier in Weston-super-Mare has been ordered to pay almost £200,000 after a 94-year-old woman died when an advertising board fell on her.

Margaret Carter, of Lydney, Gloucestershire, was walking along the promenade in October 2021 when a large A-frame board, which weighed more than 100 kilograms, was blown over by a strong gust of wind.

Mrs Carter waited three hours for an ambulance and died after eventually being taken by helicopter to Southmead Hospital in Bristol.

In a single hearing at North Somerset Magistrates Court last month, the Grand Pier was also told to comply with health and safety law.

The court heard it was up to the judgement of Grand Pier staff as to whether it was too windy for the large A-boards to be out on the promenade.

At the time of the incident, Grand Pier Ltd, the company which owns and runs the attraction, had not appointed a competent person responsible for health and safety.

The company pleaded guilty to a failure to discharge general health and safety duty to a person other than an employee and contravening a health and safety regulation.

The prosecution was brought by North Somerset Council’s food and commercial safety team.

In sentencing, the company’s defence, which opened by expressing its “sorrow” for Mrs Carter’s death and apologising to the family, argued it only had a “medium culpability” for the incident so should face a lower fine.

District Judge Angela Brereton found that Grand Pier Ltd had a high culpability for the accident and imposed a fine towards the top end of the guidance amount.

The company was fined more than £133,000, and ordered to pay costs of more than £61,000, and a £190 surcharge.

The A-boards have not been used since the accident. They were seized by North Somerset Council and Grand Pier Ltd told the court they did not want them back.

This is valid as of 05th February 2024.

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