Huge fines for holiday park

PUBLISHED: 10:00 13 October 2010 | UPDATED: 09:49 20 October 2010

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A YOUNG girl was scarred for life after falling through a glass pane at a Bleadon holiday park that flouted health and safety laws.

A YOUNG girl was scarred for life after falling through a glass pane at a Bleadon holiday park that flouted health and safety laws.

Purn Holiday Park was this week fined more than £40,000 after an investigation by North Somerset Council revealed a number of failings in the operation of the Bridgwater Road caravan site.

The investigation was launched after a 12-year-old girl fell and smashed her head through a glass panel on a toilet block door, shattering the glass into pointed shards and seriously cutting her face across the nose and cheek.

The incident on May 23, 2009, resulted in the Bristol girl having to undergo plastic surgery and she has now been left with a deep red scar across her face.

She has attended numerous hospital appointments and it is not yet known whether the scar will fade.

Purn’s managing director, Geoffrey Bass, appeared before North Somerset Magistrates after pleading guilty to four charges of breaching health and safety regulations.

North Somerset Council’s investigations revealed Mr Bass had bought the toilet block doors from a reclamation yard and the glass panels within them were not made of a safety material, such as laminated or toughened glass.

Health and safety inspectors also found a number of trip hazards on a well-used walkway near to the toilet block and laundry facilities.

They discovered that while work was being carried out on the park’s swimming pool, no additional fencing was put up above the existing 3ft wall to prevent someone falling into the empty pool.

During interview, it also became clear Mr Bass had overall responsibility for overseeing health and safety but had not undergone any training or gained any qualifications in the subject. This meant Mr Bass had breached regulations by not appointing a competent person to assist with health and safety after he bought the site in 2006.

During last week’s court hearing, it was also revealed that Mr Bass had not acted on warnings made by health and safety inspectors in 2008 about a lack of risk assessments regarding slips and trips around the site and also assessments for the swimming pool.

Chairman of the bench Chris Barke said: “Mr Bass, having bought this business in 2006, in our view, with his 25 years experience, should have made adequate health and safety provision possibly even before he bought it.

“Having bought, he should have done so straight away and certainly after he was warned in June 2008 and did nothing that we can see until the unfortunate events of May 2009.

“Mr Bass should have known about the glass and the likelihood of it causing damage should it be broken.”

Defending Mr Bass, James Ageros described him as a conscientious and well-intentioned caravan park owner who never intended to breach any health and safety regulations.

Since the incident, Mr Bass has spent almost £25,000 rectifying any issues and employs two managers who have received health and safety training.

Despite this, he and his company were ordered to pay a total of £42,500 in fines, £5,000 compensation to the injured girl as well as £13,500 costs.

A statement from from the holiday park said: “Purn Holiday Park sincerely regret that this unfortunate accident occurred.

“The management of Purn Holiday Park have subsequently worked closely with North Somerset Council in order to improve health and safety practices to ensure this incident cannot be repeated.”

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