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Calls for Warwickshire County Council to maintain hazardous paths and pavements as more suffer falls

A grandad says he has been driven to despair after his five-year-old grandson had a nasty fall last week on a footpath near his Stratford home.

Christopher Saul-Smith, who lives in Albany Road and is an RSC actor, joined the growing chorus of angry voices demanding that Warwickshire County Council do more to maintain pavements and footpaths and improve the safety of pedestrians in the district.

Despite complaining about the hazardous state of the footpath that runs behind his house in March, Mr Saul-Smith said no action had been taken by the council.

Vinny Knight, aged five, revisited the offending pothole this week wth grandparents Chris and Delphine Saul along with their dog Corbyn. Photo: Mark Williamson S45/5/21/9121. (47091460)
Vinny Knight, aged five, revisited the offending pothole this week wth grandparents Chris and Delphine Saul along with their dog Corbyn. Photo: Mark Williamson S45/5/21/9121. (47091460)

In fact, the written response he received seemed to indicate that any repairs were unlikely to happen with any urgency. In a letter, the council said: “An inspection of the location has been made and the section will be added to our list of footway surface improvement works. There are many such sites across the county and a substantial backlog of works of this type going back some years, therefore I am unfortunately unable to advise when this is likely to happen.”

When grandson Vinny took a tumble on the pot-holed path last week, grazing his knee, Mr Saul-Smith saw red and sent the council a video of an upset Vinny in the aftermath of his fall, and demanded the council “sort it out”.

He told the Herald: “I was furious. This could be a far more serious complaint if it had been a wheelchair occupant or an elderly person. Yet the council just fob us off – it is pure neglect.”

Following his strongly worded complaint, the council said they would attend to the repair of the footpath “in due course”.

Since the Herald ran stories in last two weeks’ editions about uneven pavements causing issues in the town centre, we have heard from several other readers who have suffered nasty injuries after tripping on uneven pavement slabs.

Among those was Hillary Allison – who had a nasty fall last week in Meer Street after tripping on a wonky slab. She suffered a badly bruised face and has been left very shaken.

“Stratford’s pavements are disgusting, especially where I live in Benson Road.”

Hillary Allison (47321031)
Hillary Allison (47321031)

The 76-year-old said she had not complained to the council but wanted to raise awareness about the problem: “If this had happened to someone in a wheelchair I dread to think what would have happened.”

She added: “The council has spent a fortune on the Covid measures in the town centre but they need to prioritise pavement safety.”

Two other women also contacted the Herald after resorting to suing the council.

Margaruete Walworth, 72, fell badly on an uneven pavement in Birmingham Road, opposite Aldi, three years ago, breaking a bone in her pelvic region. She was rushed to hospital and was off work – an office job – for six weeks. The council have not accepted liability and so she is pushing ahead with legal proceedings. “I won’t give up. The council need to be held to account,” she said.

Mary Harman, 61, fell in Bridge Street in 2019 and is still fighting with the council to admit that the poorly-maintained pavement was to blame. She suffered bruising and hurt her wrist, and warned: “My injuries were bad enough but I think someone is going to die unless they sort the pavements out.”

Mary Harman (47321023)
Mary Harman (47321023)

A Warwickshire County Council spokesperson for county highways responded: “We are unable to comment on specific cases related to injury or any claims which are currently being dealt with.

“With regards to the condition of the alleyway off Evesham Place, we are aware of the condition of the surface and have been in contact with the resident. We have raised an order with our contractors to carry out remedial repairs to the area. We plan to complete the works within the next four weeks.”

In addition, they advised that concerns over the condition of roads and pavements be reported via www.warwickshire.gov.uk/reportit or by calling the customer service centre on 01926 412515.

They added: “With any defects which are reported or picked up as part of our routine safety inspections, the defect is assessed by the highways team and repairs are organised as necessary. The repair time will be related to the severity of the issue.”

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