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CROSS Safety Report

No responsibility for damaged footbridge

Report ID: 723 Published: 1 July 2018 Region: CROSS-UK

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Overview

A reporter describes how they tried to raise concerns over a damaged footbridge but could not determine ownership.  

The footbridge was in a public car park and one beam had the centre of its web missing for the last metre, and at least half of its flange missing for the middle 3m of the span.

Key Learning Outcomes

For all built environment professionals:

  • If you notice a potential safety issue not during the course of your work, consider reporting it to the owner or tenant

  • If the owner is not known, then the appropriate regulator could be informed

  • Local authorities also have powers to take action if there is a potential imminent risk to the public

Full Report

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A small footbridge in a public car park has the centre of the web missing for the last metre on one beam, and at least half of flange missing for the middle 3m of the span. This was reported to the local authority council who declined responsibility and passed the problem to the county authority as this is a bridge. In turn the county said that it was not their problem and suggested phoning the owner of an adjacent superstore who did not respond. Who is responsible if no owner can be identified?

Expert Panel Comments

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Expert Panels comment on the reports we receive. They use their experience to help you understand what can be learned from the reports. If you would like to know more, please visit the CROSS-UK Expert Panels page.

This and report 704 are very similar. It is heartening to see that in both cases, someone not only raised the issue but had the determination to carry it through. It does though seem wrong that it is left to third party responsible engineers to act in such cases.

Ownership can be complicated; however local authorities have powers to take action if there is a potential imminent risk to the public. They can take such action as necessary to remove the risk and to charge the owner for the costs when ownership is determined. Powers are usually delegated to the local authority building control office.

It should be noted, however that the responsibility for maintaining a safe structure always rests with the owner.

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