People injured in Suffolk pavement falls awarded payouts of over £70,000

Suffolk County Council deputy leader Mary Evans. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Suffolk County Council deputy leader Mary Evans. Picture: GREGG BROWN

More than £70,000 has been paid out to people in Suffolk injured in pavement falls between 2015-18.

A total of 303 people put in claims to Suffolk County Council after tripping over on footpaths in the county, it was revealed in response to our Freedom of Information request.

The amount paid out so far in compensation is £36,161 for 2015, £16,864 for 2016 and £17,602 for 2017, totalling £70,627. No money has as yet been paid out for incidents during 2018. The figures include solicitors’ and legal fees.

The highest individual payout was £10,955, paid after a fall victim received “multiple injuries” in Lowestoft in November 2016.

Injuries sustained in other accidents included broken and chipped bones, sprains and strains and a slipped disc.

Suffolk Highways workers resurfacing part of the footpaths on the Running Waters estate in Boxford P

Suffolk Highways workers resurfacing part of the footpaths on the Running Waters estate in Boxford Picture: DAVID LAMMING - Credit:

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The highest number of injuries occurred during 2015, when 89 people submitted claims. However, there has since been a slight downward trend, with 73 claims during 2016, 75 in 2017 and 66 in 2018,

These figures come at a time when pedestrian safety is in the spotlight, after John Stow, 83, died following a fall on steps at the newly revamped Cornhill in Ipswich in January.

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The charity Living Streets is currently campaigning over pavement safety. Tanya Braun, its head of policy and communications, said in response to the Suffolk figures: “It’s so important that our pavements are kept clear and safe for those walking everyday journeys, especially for those who are more vulnerable. We know that older people find badly kept streets a hazard to walking and can be put off of leaving the house, which can lead to loneliness and isolation.”

Michael Wordingham, regional campaigns officer at RNIB, commented: “Street obstructions are one of the biggest barriers people with sight loss face when getting out and about. RNIB research has found that nearly 95 per cent of blind and partially sighted people had collided with an obstacle, with almost a third being injured as a result.

“People with sight loss need streets that are clear of obstacles and easy to navigate, including clear contrasting. We believe blind and partially sighted people should be able to travel confidently and independently without the fear of being injured.”

Mary Evans, Suffolk County Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for highways, said: “Tripping or falling when out and about can be painful, as I found out for myself relatively recently!

“Suffolk Highways is very conscious when it comes to maintaining its highway network to ensure the safety of its users, especially for pedestrians using pavements (footways).

“I am pleased that we have seen a drop in claims made since 2015, and a consequential decrease in the amount paid out in compensation. However, it is very important that we continue to use our budget to maintain effectively our footways county-wide, enabling residents and visitors, young and old to enjoy walking around our county.

“Our footways are inspected on a regular basis, and if they are found to fall below our published standards, we will fix them. I encourage all to report these defects to us using the online reporting tool, so that we can inspect and repair defects where possible.”

If a serious trip hazard develops, she said people should call 0345 606 6171, so that they can respond as an emergency and make the defect safe.

A Suffolk Highways spokesman said it currently invests more than £1m each year in the planned footways programme, and this year had received additional money from central government, allowing it to invest around £500,000 extra in footways. This additional money has been targeted primarily at busy shopping streets in towns including Stowmarket, Felixstowe and Haverhill.

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