Couple win four year court battle against council after rising bollard destroyed their car (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Couple win four year court battle against Darlington Borough Council after rising bollard destroyed their car
A COUPLE whose car was destroyed by a rising bollard have won a four year court battle against a council for compensation after the authority's own CCTV evidence proved it had malfunctioned.
Claire and Ashley Savidge have accused Darlington Borough Council of arrogance in refusing to accept that the automatic bollard had activated before it was supposed to, forcing them to pursue their claim through the courts.
Mrs Savidge, now 34, needed hospital treatment after the BMW M3 she was driving was hit from underneath by the rising bollard in Duke Street, on the edge of Darlington’s pedestrian zone in November 2008.
The sports car - worth £20,000 - was later written off by Mr Savidge’s insurers after the bollard destroyed the engine.
A judge sitting at Middlesbrough County Court found in the Savidges’ favour after CCTV images submitted by the council proved Mrs Savidge’s evidence that the bollard rose at 9.55am, not at 10am when it was meant to rise as the council claimed.
The couple have been awarded compensation and costs but are waiting for a copy of the judge’s findings for the exact amounts.
Darlington Borough Council said it is waiting for a copy of the judgement to read through the details of the finding, but that it had insurance in place to pay for court related costs.
Mr and Mrs Savidge, of Darlington, said they feel vindicated by the judgement and called on Darlington Borough Council to remove the rising bollard, which is still in place, or improve its safety.
Mother-of-two Mrs Savidge said: “I’m pleased that we’ve be successful and that we’ve won but I’m angry with the council for having something in place that’s so dangerous.
“It’s not safe and they need to do something about it. The council claimed that the warning lights were flashing but the light is a couple of inches across and is to the side of the bollard.
“If you are going to put a warning light on something it should be in front of the driver like a level crossing – you shouldn’t have to turn your head away from the road.”
Mr Savidge, 40, said the court case had taken so long because the council had refused to accept any blame for the incident and had insisted that the bollard had risen at 10am as it was supposed to.
He said: “The council dug its heels in and said was Claire’s fault, that’s why they’ve gone to court. They honestly thought they were going to win. They gave evidence that the car went through the bollard at 10am but their CCTV evidence proved us right.
“If they hadn’t used the CCTV stills with the time showing before 10am then it would have been harder for us to prove our case. “ In a statement, Darlington Borough Council said: “The court found in favour of Mrs Savidge.
"We are currently awaiting sight of the Court report from our insurers, who defended the case on our behalf, to read through the details of the case and the finding. We do have insurance in place to cover such court related costs.”
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