Manslaughter threat over Leeds tower block design

Grant Prior 10 years ago
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Leeds City Council could be charged with corporate manslaughter over designs for the Bridgewater Place tower which have been blamed for the death of a pedestrian.

An inquest into the death of Edward Slaney, from Sowerby Bridge, near Halifax was halted last week.

Slaney died after being crushed by a lorry that was blown off all four wheels in a notoriously windy area near Bridgewater Place.

The inquest heard that the lorry “floated through the air like a hot air balloon” in gale-force winds before landing on the 35-year-old on March 10 last year.

The Yorkshire Post reported that Leeds Coroner’s court was told that “freakishly high” speeds of between 67mph and 79mph were recorded near the 367ft-tall building that day.

After hearing evidence about the design and construction of the 32-storey tower, Coroner Melanie Williamson, said: “I’m concerned having heard all the evidence there may be an offence of corporate manslaughter by one or more of the organisations.

“I’m obliged to adjourn this inquest pending further inquiries by the Crown Prosecution Service.”

The building was developed by Bridgewater Place Limited. Company director Chris Gilman told the Post: “This was a tragic accident. Different bodies were employed to do their job. They have done their jobs as best they can.

“Whether the problem is anyone’s fault is another question.”

A spokesman for Bridgewater Place Ltd said: “As originally stated, all building and planning regulations were fully adhered to in the development of Bridgewater Place.

“As part of the requirements for obtaining planning permission, Leeds City Council specifically requested that a comprehensive wind tunnel analysis was conducted to assess the effect of the building on the surrounding area.

“This was carried out by the Building Research Establishment (BRE) and was required prior to construction starting on site.”

A Leeds City Council spokeswoman said: “We are surprised and disappointed by the coroner’s decision.

“The police investigation carried out before the inquest resumed was full and thorough and it found that the council had been proactive in recognising the issues and reacting to them.

“We are working urgently with the developer to achieve the best solution to the wind generated problems around Bridgewater Place to ensure the safety of highway users. This was a tragic incident and we convey our deepest condolences to the family.”

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