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Council ‘ignored warnings over rotten flagpole’
Leeds City Council has come under fire for “ignoring warnings” about a rotting flagpole that fell and injured a two-year-old girl in Otley.
River Webster suffered a fractured skull and broken ankle when the wooden flagpole, in the Memorial Garden, collapsed and landed on her on March 31.
The council, which owns and has responsibility for the Bondgate site, confirmed afterwards it was conducting a “thorough investigation” into the incident.
Now claims have emerged from a council ‘whistleblower’ that the authority’s bosses had been warned six months beforehand that the flagpole was rotten and could fall and hurt someone, but no action was taken.
The insider also claimed the council had fallen behind with a programme of safety checks of its headstones and memorials.
A Leeds City Council spokes-woman denied that was the case.
She said: “Annual checks are made on war memorials in the Leeds area and any requiring maintenance are listed in a schedule of repairs.”
The spokeswoman added: “We met the girl’s parents as soon as we heard about her accident to express our concern and offer our full support. A thorough investigation is taking place into what happened so we cannot comment further at this stage.”
River, from Otley, is understood to have been with her mother, Charlotte Hodge, in the memorial garden when the flagpole toppled onto her.
The town centre was brought to a standstill as a Yorkshire Air Ambulance helicopter, firefighters and ambulances rushed to the scene.
River was freed and taken to Leeds General Infirmary. Although she is understood to have made a good recovery, she has still to return to the hospital for scans and checks.
Councillor Colin Campbell (Lib Dem, Otley & Yeadon) has called for the council’s inspection arrangements to be reviewed to prevent anything similar happening again.