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Sentence due on balconies

A balcony collapsed at flats in Newby Place, Mereside, Blackpool.

A balcony collapsed at flats in Newby Place, Mereside, Blackpool.

A company set up by Blackpool Council which was found guilty of a catalogue of failures after balconies on its properties collapsed is due to be sentenced.

Blackpool Coastal Housing – formed in 2007 as a stand alone company by Blackpool Council to manage its 5,000-plus properties – pleaded guilty to failing in its duty towards residents and putting them at risk of injury or death after balconies collapsed on Newby Place, Mereside, in May 2012.

Some residents had to be rescued by firefighters when the collapse cracked a gas main.

The company should have been sentenced on May 21 but the hearing was delayed.

It will now be dealt with at Preston Crown Court on Friday – with the company warned it could be hit with an unlimited fine.

The case was heard at Blackpool Magistrates earlier this year but the sentencing was sent to the higher court by a judge due to the seriousness of the charges.

The previous hearing heard how, as far back as 2007, people said the balconies were clearly falling away from the rest of the building. About 40 flats in Newby Place were

affected.

One resident wrote a letter of complaint once a month for five years but still nothing was done.

Craig Morris, prosecuting for the Health and Safety Executive, said: “Senior officers of the company saw what was happening with their own eyes but did nothing,” he said. “The balconies had a slope to them. Even when new residents were shown around and pointed out what they could see they were told by staff there was nothing wrong.

“It was only good fortune that no one was killed.”

The judge sent the case to the higher court stating: “There was reckless disregard for the safety of residents. The aggravating features of this case are so overwhelming.”

 

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