Blackpool South Pier owners caused 'major health risk' as deadly asbestos allowed to float down Promenade while people were nearby

The owners of a famous seaside pier put the public’s health at major risk when they demolished an asbestos-lined arcade - while locals and holidaymakers were allowed to roam nearby.
The South Pier when it was closed last JuneThe South Pier when it was closed last June
The South Pier when it was closed last June

Asbestos fibres from Blackpool's South Pier were allowed to float along the Promenade, and people were allowed into the arcade where the work was being done.

Blackpool Magistrates heard today how the pier’s owner cut corners on cost as a circus style roof above the main landward arcade was removed.

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At one stage a director of the owners – The Blackpool Pier Company- became involved in what the court heard was a heated argument over the firm’s loss of revenue when an official notice was served closing down areas of the pier when the illegal contamination was discovered in June 2018.

Lynda Bennett, prosecuting for Blackpool Council said: "Their culpability was very high. The removal of asbestos was unsafe and uncontrolled. There was a major health risk on their hands to the public and the three men who worked on it.

“Asbestos fibres were floating down the Promenade and were on equipment used by the men.”

She said that when Health and Safety officers became involved, it took nine days to clean up outside the pier and 12 days to clean up inside the arcade, and that the clean-up team worked day and night on 12-hour shifts to accomplish this.

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She said the pier company had been a £16,000 quote from a company licenced to remove the dangerous asbestos legally.

However the council’s health and safety officers discovered that three employees of the pier had started the removal over a weekend.

“When council staff found asbestos on machines and one the Promenade an prohibition notice was served on the company closing areas down,” Ms Bennett said. “The three members had used a Hoover to clean asbestos from the arcade carpet.

"There was a major health risk to the public who could have been exposed to asbestos fibres, as well as the three employees who had not been trained or equipped in a suitable manner."

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Defence lawyer Peter Gilmore said: "The defendants accept there was not a proper plan or training in place.

"They do,however, disagree on the level of culpability although serious errors did take place.”.

Company finance director Fiona Blaylock, 44, of Arthurs Lane, Hambleton, admitted one offence of failing to ensure the health and safety of the firm’s employees. Fellow director Peter Sedgwick Jr, 39, of Crane Hall Farm, Out Rawcliffe, pleaded guilty to the same offence.

The company they are directors of The Blackpool Pier Company pleaded guilty to eight offences of failing to ensure the health and safety of their employees, failing to ensure the health and safety of the public, and allowing the release of asbestos fibres into the atmosphere. The company, based on Church Street, Blackpool, also admitted three charges of conniving to commit offences, failing to provide a plan of work being done on the pier and failing to give guidance and instruction for the control of asbestos.

They will be sentenced at Preston Crown Court on December 4

Charges against Peter Sedgwick Snr, 74, of Newton Drive,Blackpool were dropped.