Pontin’s facing safety charges

Pontin's before it was demolished in St Annes
Pontin's before it was demolished in St Annes
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A FORMER Fylde coast holiday camp has been accused of putting the lives of staff and holidaymakers at risk following the death of a tourist who contracted Legionnaires’ Disease.

Holidaymaker Karen Taylor caught the deadly virus while on a nine-day break at the former Pontin’s holiday camp on Clifton Drive South St Annes.

She later died after developing pneumonia.

Pontin’s Ltd – which is currently in administration after racking up £33m debts – is accused of two breaches of health and safety laws by putting holidaymakers and staff at risk of harm through the management of the water system at the camp.

Despite the company’s absence at court, a trial began at Preston Crown Court yesterday after a not guilty plea had been entered.

Simon Parrington, prosecuting, said temperatures of water were such that it “promoted the proliferation of the bacteria”.

He said: “It is the Crown’s case there were very serious failures on behalf of Pontin’s Ltd.”

The court heard holidaymaker, Margaret Coop, spent five weeks in hospital after suffering a heart attack and symptoms associated with Legionnaires’ Disease.

Environmental health officers from Fylde Council visited Pontin’s and pointed out concerns about the water temperatures from the boiler which led to the chalet where Mrs Coop was staying.

The management at Pontin’s gave assurances action would be taken and it was agreed the council would await a full report from the Health Protection Agency in July the same year.

But before the report was ready, holidaymaker Mrs Taylor – who stayed at Pontin’s with her husband between July 10 and July 19, 2009 – fell ill. She had complained the shower she used was not hot enough but nothing was done.

The 53-year-old became ill when she returned to her home in Northfields, Birmingham. She developed pneumonia before she was diagnosed with Legionnaires’ Disease and died on August 29.

Mrs Coop said she was on a life support machine for up to four weeks but could not remember any of her time in hospital.

She told the court the experience had been “very frightening”.

A visibly upset Michael Taylor told the jury his wife had also used the shower in Chalet 229 but he had used the bath.

Halfway through their holiday he said she was “not feeling very well”.

“After the holiday we came back and I saw a dramatic change,” he said.

Recorder Judge Anthony Russell said: “Pontin’s Ltd is a company in administration. It has ceased to trade with large debts and an administrator has been appointed.

“The primary duty of the administrator is to look after the interest of those who are owed money so it was felt inappropriate to incur costs in these proceedings.”