Council to face no action over balcony collapse

The balcony which collapsed at flats in Newby Place, Mereside, Blackpool.
The balcony which collapsed at flats in Newby Place, Mereside, Blackpool.
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No further action will be taken following the collapse of a balcony at a block of flats in Blackpool after housing chiefs acted to address the failings.

Government regulators from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) carried out a formal investigation following the incident on Newby Place, Mereside, in May 2012 for which Blackpool Coastal Housing (BCH) was fined £50,000 and ordered to pay more than £27,000 costs.

A judge said it was “remarkable” no-one had been killed.

The HCA has now published a Regulatory Notice saying while there had been breaches which potentially could have been of “serious detriment to tenants”, BCH had addressed the problems “to mitigate the risk of a similar event occurring again in the future”.

The notice adds a review was also commissioned to “ascertain whether the culture of the organisation could have contributed to an environment which allowed the balcony collapse to occur, as the structural flaws within the balconies had been known about for some time but had not been acted upon”.

The report concluded no further regulatory action was required.

BCH has since appointed a new chief executive John Donnellon, and disciplinary action was taken against a number of parties as a result of the incident.

Mr Donnellon, said: “It’s important that we’ve been able to satisfy the regulator that we have taken the proper steps to address this issue.

“I can now confidently say the mistakes and failings that led to this incident have been fully investigated and all systems relating to property maintenance have been overhauled.

“This has now been acknowledged by the regulator.

“This was an incident which could have and should have been prevented. Mistakes were made which left our tenants in a vulnerable position and it is fortunate no-one was injured.

“I reiterate my sincere apologies on behalf of the company to the residents of Newby Place for the distress this incident has caused and I firmly believe we are in a position where this can never happen again.”

Coun Gillian Campbell, Blackpool Council’s cabinet member for housing, added: “We have been working closely with BCH to make sure that this does not happen again and we are satisfied the appropriate action has been taken.”