St Helens Council is threatening to sue a cyclist who spent eight days in a coma following a collision with a car over a bill sent to him for £240 relating to the cost of closing the road on which the accident took place.
Martin Lloyd, aged 20, broke 20 bones in the crash which took place as he rode his BMX bike on the East Lancs Road last September and it is believed that only the swift arrival of an air ambulance saved his life.
Receipt of the bill has left Mr Lloyd in a state of disgust, reports the St Helens Star. "If I had died what would they have done sent a bill to my mum, my dad, or my auntie?”
"They wouldn't, they would have left it. Now, they think, 'oh he's had a bit of a rough time, but he's OK now,'” he said.
"I've had three letters and they have said if I can't afford to pay they will take me to court.
"I'm disgusted to be honest, I didn't ask for any of this. When I was in hospital they didn't expect me to recover. Now I'm being hit with this.
The unemployed father of one accepts that he was to blame for the collision, saying: "I've viewed the CCTV and obviously it was my fault. But it was an accident. I didn't mean for it to happen."
Medical staff at the hospital the helicopter took him to told Mr Lloyd after he awoke from his coma: “ You shouldn't even be here. You’re very lucky.”
Mr Lloyd continues to receive treatment for his injuries, which included a fractured skull and a broken collarbone and ribs. His right leg was also shattered in the accident, and he spent five weeks in hospital.
He added: “ I don't remember the crash itself. I feel sorry for the driver, if I had died it could have ruined his life.”
The St Helens Star added that Police have investigated the collision but will not take any action against the cyclist.
In the third letter from St Helens Council seeking recovery of the cost of closing the road, Mr Lloyd was offered the opportunity to repay the £240 at the rate of £2 per week, which would take just over two years.
While this would appear to be a one-off case with extenuating circumstances – the type of situation in which one might expect the council to hold its hands up and admit it had made an error – instead the local authority has issued a statement in which it seeks to justify its actions.
Councillor Joe De’Asha, Cabinet Member for Environmental Protection, maintained that St Helens Council had made the correct decision, saying: “Obviously we’re delighted that Mr Lloyd has now recovered from his injuries.
“However we feel it would be unfair to let council tax payers pick up the tab for an operation that resulted entirely from Mr Lloyd’s actions.”
By our calculations, the £240 bill equates to around 1/13th of a penny for each of the borough’s estimated 177,500 inhabitants, but Mr De’Asha insists: “CCTV footage clearly indicates the sequence of events in this matter and we are satisfied that it’s appropriate to invoice Mr Lloyd for the relevant costs.
“Damage to council property and the costs we incur in the aftermath of an accident are usually recovered via vehicle insurance. In this case that is clearly not an option.
“This is not a case of uncaring, unyielding bureaucracy – we’re more than happy to look at cases where there is the slightest suggestion of unfairness - however in this case the facts are clear.
“We are pleased to see that Mr Lloyd has accepted responsibility for his role in this incident,” he concluded.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.