Council ought to apologise and pay out over pothole

COMMENT: Ask for ID - it’s better to be safe than sorry

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Rita Bell was looking forward to a fun trip to the Pyramids Centre in Southsea with her great-grandchildren. But the smiles turned to shock when her mobility scooter hit a water-filled pothole near the entrance.

Mrs Bell, who is 89, was thrown out as the scooter overturned and became pinned underneath it, suffering a dislocated hip and bruising.

It must have been an awful experience for her and she says: ‘I used to be so energetic and full of life, but now I’ve lost all my confidence.’

Meanwhile Daughter Julie Page reveals how her mother no longer goes to the seafront or on shopping trips.

As well as the psychological scars left by the incident in April, Mrs Bell has also lost the use of her scooter, a Christmas gift from her family, because it was irreparably damaged in the incident.

She certainly deserves sympathetic treatment from Portsmouth City Council, which did not fill in the 12-inch hole after a tree was removed. Yet instead Mrs Bell’s family have found themselves caught up in a legal dispute after the council said it had passed on their claim for compensation to Southsea Community Leisure, which leases the Pyramids and surrounding land.

Ms Page says she waited 90 days to even get a reply from the council. That is totally unacceptable.

What took it so long? Does the council have so many complaints to deal with that there is a massive backlog? Or is that the individuals tasked with dealing with such correspondence couldn’t figure out what to do about Ms Page’s letter?

We believe the council should not prevaricate on this issue. Rather than attempting to shift responsibility on to SCL, it ought to accept an accident that happened on a pavement comes under its jurisdiction. Further, it should recognise that leaving a deep hole unfilled after felling a tree was a potential hazard.

Mrs Bell and her family have already waited too long to have this matter resolved. They deserve nothing less than an apology and damages that will enable them to buy Mrs Bell a new scooter.