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£120k fine for council over bin lorry deaths

A Cumbrian council has been fined £120,000 after two women were killed by reversing bin lorries in the space of nine months.

South Lakeland District Council was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following an investigation that found the local authority had failed to tackle the risks from reversing vehicles.

Carlisle Crown Court heard the first incident happened on a single-track lane off Easedale Road in Grasmere on 2 June 2010. Mary Cook had been walking down the track while on holiday with her husband when she was struck by a reversing rubbish truck. The 54-year-old from Nottingham died from her injuries.

The driver pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving in a separate prosecution. However, the HSE investigation also found that it was normal practice for 7.5 tonne bin lorries to reverse down the long track to reach a holiday rental home, without a council employee walking behind to guide the driver.

The court was told the council should have reviewed all its bin collection rounds following the incident to eliminate reversing whenever possible, or to make sure employees guided drivers from behind vehicles when there was no other option but to reverse.

This did not happen and instead reversing was actually introduced at St Mary's School on Prince’s Road in Windermere where the second incident occurred.

The council had been carrying out fortnightly collections of recycling waste from outside the school gates for a term when it changed its system and instead began reversing the trucks onto the school grounds to collect the rubbish.

On 17 March 2011, council employee Dorothy Harkes, 58, from Ulverston, was walking behind a rubbish truck to guide the driver when she was struck, causing fatal injuries.

The driver of the vehicle was also convicted of causing death by careless driving but the HSE investigation concluded that there had been no need for council trucks to reverse onto the school grounds.

South Lakeland District Council was fined £120,000 and ordered to pay £50,000 in prosecution costs after pleading guilty to two breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

“Both the drivers have already admitted their part in Mary and Dorothy’s deaths but our investigation found the council had not done all it should have to protect the public and their employees from the danger of reversing rubbish trucks.

“The lane that Mary Cook and her husband had been walking along was heavily used by holidaymakers and yet the council failed to make sure measures were in place so that its vehicles could reverse safely.

“What’s particularly disappointing is that the council actually introduced reversing as part of its collection of recycling waste from St Mary's School, rather than trying to eliminate it wherever possible following Mary’s death.”

– Mark Dawson, HSE’s Principal Inspector for Cumbria and North Lancashire

Executive recommends Copeland Budget

Copeland Borough Council’s Executive recommended the proposed budget for 2015/16 at their meeting last night.

The Council needs to make savings of £1.484 million, and proposals in the budget include plans to cut Council costs by sharing resources with other councils.

The budget report will now go before full council for approval as part of the Budget meeting on 26 February.

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Public asked for views on four-year plan for Eden

Residents are being urged to give their views on Eden District Council's four-year plan for the area.

The council is inviting comments in a public consultation running for five weeks, from today (11 February) until 20 March 2015.

Members of the public, other local authorities, community and business groups and parish councils are being encouraged to read and have their say on the 'Draft Council Plan', which will guide the council’s direction and priorities from May 2015 to April 2019.

“Although what’s in the Draft Plan is the result of widespread consultation, we need to know if we’ve got it right. Have we addressed the most important issues for Eden and have we missed anything out? This is why we welcome feedback from as many people and organisations as possible."

– Cllr David Whipp, Eden District Council’s Organisation and External Relations Portfolio Holder

Once consultation responses have been considered and incorporated where appropriate, the final Council Plan 2015-2019 will be agreed and adopted at a meeting of full council on Thursday 16 April 2015. There will be an opportunity following the elections in May for any new district councillors to comment on and potentially amend the Plan.

To obtain a copy of the Draft Council Plan 2015-2019 and details on how to respond to it, contact: Deborah Garnett, Senior Communities Officer at Eden District Council on Tel: 01768 817817 or Email:communities.team@eden.gov.uk

Copies of the Plan can be emailed, collected from the council’s offices or sent by post.

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Workington Labour candidate announced

Sue Hayman after her selection at Cockermouth School Credit: Workington Labour Party

Sue Hayman has been chosen as the Labour Party’s candidate for Workington at the upcoming General Election.

She is currently Cumbria County Councillor for Howgate and has previously worked for Cumbria-based Copper Consultancy, and in social services.

She will be looking to succeed Sir Tony Cunningham who is retiring after 14 years of service.

She joins Rozila Kana of the Conservative Party, Phill Roberts of the Liberal Democrats, Jill Perry of the Green party, and Mark Jenkinson of UKIP in the fight for the Workington seat.

Residents 'trapped' due to planning row

Residents of Green Hollows Country Park feel trapped due to an on-going planning dispute.

15 homes were bought to be used as permanent residences only for the owners to be told after that the buildings were classified as holiday homes.

Residents, who have been allowed to live there themselves, have been told that the houses will revert to holiday homes if they're sold, reducing their value by more than half.

Public could grant planning permission

A public referendum could decide a planning row over Green Hallows Country Park Credit: ITV Border

A public referendum could take place this summer to decide a long running planning row in north Cumbria.

Around 15 people bought homes in the Green Hollows Country Park near Southwaite but later found out that they weren't allowed to live there permanently.

They've now been told they can stay but will only be able to sell them in future as holiday homes, reducing their value by more than half.

New localism laws give people the power to vote in a referendum on this issue and one could go ahead this summer.

Borders Railway 'Olympic moment' for area

Michael Moore has described the Borders Railway as an 'Olympic moment' for the area Credit: PA

MP Michael Moore has told the Scottish Affairs Committee that the Borders Railway is an 'Olympic moment' for the area that can't be wasted.

The 30 mile line is due to be reopened between Edinburgh and the Borders in September.

The Scottish Affairs Committee is in Galashiels to hear evidence about issues facing businesses and residents of the border regions in Scotland and cross-border issues.

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