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Overgrown verge main contributing factor to tragic death


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Everybody remembers the awful grass cutting fiasco last year and at the time lots of people said that this will result in accidents in the countryside, well unfortunately it did.


This is an extract from the Hereford Times


AN overgrown grass verge reaching more than six-feet high was "a main contributing factor" in the death of a Herefordshire woman killed while walking her dog, an inquest heard.


Former teacher Josephine Wilson, 66, died at Hereford County Hospital after being in collision with a Honda Civic as she crossed a road in Dormington, just yards from her home.


The hearing at Hereford Town Hall this morning heard from a collision investigator who called the roadside area "dangerous".


He said it was likely Mrs Wilson, who had approached the road from a footpath, was obscured from the sight of the driver because of the state of the verge.


I'm not going to say we told you so as someone has tragically died, but this can never be allowed to happen again, regardless who has control of the council.


Some of the Junctions in the countryside are already dangerous enough without making the visibility worse, this is a problem that perhaps some of you city dwellers don't think about or perhaps the council didn't think about when the cutbacks were made, either way someone has paid the ultimate price because of 'cost cutting' let's make sure there is no more.

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I've just read this story in full, over at HT.


Unbelievably tragic, and so completely avoidable.


What a waste of a life.


I personally found the statement from Balfour Beatty's spokesperson particularly callous.


They commented that they hadn't received a complaint about this verge.




Every verge, every field and every green space was horrendous last year, as well they knew.


To try and step away from responsibility beggars belief.


My heart goes out to Mrs Wilsons family and friends.


(By the way Jim, us "City Dwellers" are well aware of the dangers.... we don't live in a protected bubble in Hereford, we do get out and about you know!Many of us have made specific complaints about issues which aren't 'our patch' but we can see there is a problem, and report it for other peoples benefit.)

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Tragic. I cycle this road several times a week - there was really no reason for this to happen apart from the unmown grass. I found the Knowledge Centre Manager's comment callous and uncalled for. It is not the general public's responsibility to report each and every overgrown verge - BBLP are paid very handsomely to deliver a service, which they manifestly failed to do. It is interesting that the Council, their paymasters, and who are ultimately responsible, are nowhere to be seen. Let us hope that the Cabinet Member/s responsible reconsider their priorities.


As for the Knowledge Centre Manager job title - give these people proper job titles so we all know what they do or don't do.

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Hereford Times link to the Inquest story .... The story does not give the date of the tragic event but it was June 6th


Hereford Voice readers may also remember Cllr Rone was appointed as a 'Grass supremo' after a Public Protest about long grass 'everywhere' ~ and also after Rhys Evans crashed his car at Tillington. The long grass was so widespread that it was impossible to individually report every verge. And it would have been pointless to do so. Link to the story here (link dated May 30)


The Hereford Times also ran a story on their website (dated June 5th) where various contributors (including Cllr Chris Chappell) said that the lack of grass cutting was 'putting lives at risk'. Link here


I think it's shameful that BBLP are attempting to distance themselves from this tragic event by highlighting that they had not received a direct complaint about a particular overgrown verge. The complaints had been so very vocal that the Council had reacted. Not by cutting much grass but by making an appointment of an official.


To report an overgrown verge the link to the Council page is here

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Well, I've no wish to transmit anything that'd add pain and unhappiness to this poor grieving family and I've certainly no desire to stir up this pot of highly charged emotions that are clearly evident to all those who have commented upon this sad story but.........

If this was some Farmer who'd deposited mud on the road and that mud was a causation factor in the death of another, the Police would most definitely have arrested the Farmer and a manslaughter charge would have been laid and a trial would have ensued in a Crown Court.

If some Haulier had dispatched a wagon upon business with an insecure load or was neglectful in relation to some Construction and Use offence and a death occurred because of these causation factors, again, the Transport Manager and the Driver would have been arrested and charges and a Court case would have followed.

If an employee at some factory died during an industrial accident and a causation factor was a neglect of Health & Safety, you can be sure that the Company Secretary and a whole gaggle of management employees would also be held responsible and face the full weight of the Law.

Even, the four deaths of Firefighters who died some many years ago fighting an industrial blaze resulted in the arrest, charge and trial of the men's supervising Officers.

Now, here we are where a Coroner has ruled that the causation factor behind this death was the badly maintained grass verge and despite the obvious and self explanatory circumstances, the Coroner doesn't feel it necessary to report upon his findings and communicate his findings and his conclusions to the Secretary of State, it leaves me asking myself this. 'Are Councils and their outsourced agents and big, big business now beyond any of our Laws.

The facts are that because of some corporate profit making decision made by Balfour Beatty who were acting on behalf of Hereford Council and the Council Officers who negotiated this deal, a lady has died as a result of that decision.

That decision, not to fulfil the contract between us and them has been a causation factor in the death of one of our citizens and if we were living in a world where all were treated equally, an investigation into the entire chain of events would ensue and, given the gravity of neglect of duty to the deceased and the rate paying public, people involved in this chain of events should be arrested, they should be scrutinised by the Crown Prosecution Service, charges of corporate manslaughter should follow and a jury required to pass their verdict on whether or not any individual was responsible for a death.

Me? I actually don't think that the Council and Ballfour Beatty are off the hook. Given that the Council are the 'lead' on the Herefordshire Safer Roads Partnership and a death like this one was fairly predictable to anyone with a modicum of common sense I think that this sad event is going to run and run, and eventually, when enough pressure is built up by us and Councillors who might just see the injustice behind this tragedy, I believe that eventually 'heads will roll'.

During my old days as a keyboard warrior I communicated the pothole problem and the failure to cut the grass verges to the Council Facebook site and when I enquired what they would do if someone died as a result, they responded that they didn't deal with hypotheticals. Despite me telling them that strategic thinking was entirely about thinking about the hypotheticals they chose to ignore me and many others who reported similar concerns.

No! This ain't the end if this. Their decision not to cut the grass around that particular junction is going to come back to bite them all and it'll be little consolation to the Council and Ballfour Beatty that fighting their corner was the ridiculously titled, Knowledge Centre Manager'.

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