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Council "mistake" led to paralysed teen being asked to pay for bike-crash damage

Letter to recover costs sent to boy's parents...

Probably the last thing you need after suffering a horror bike crash in which you are impaled by a railing is a bill….to fix the railings.

But that’s what 18-year-old Ben Foulds got in the aftermath of an accident in Barnstaple, Devon which saw him crash through the barrier and plummet, head first, 15ft onto the road below. Ben was severely injured as not only had a railing penetrated 8 inches into his side, but he suffered a broken back and swelling to the brain.

Following the crash last year he spent two weeks under sedation in hospital in Plymouth and is currently undergoing rehabilitation, but doctors believe it is unlikely he will ever walk again.

Ben received the letter from Devon County Council, which owns the railings, last week but when he heard about it he laughed it off.

"I would not have expected them to send out a letter considering I nearly died, just because I broke their railings in the process,” he told the North Devon Journal. "We have no intention of paying it. When my mum first told me, I thought it was quite funny."

Ben’s mother, not surprisingly, took an altogether dimmer view of the correspondence and passed it on to her solicitor.

She told the Journal: "It's amazing the council would send something like that. It is quite insensitive considering he is still in hospital and is in a wheelchair because of the accident. I was speechless when I read it.

"I couldn't be dealing with it. We have enough on our plate and we don't want another thing like this to deal with."

The letter, which came from a finance officer within the council, said: "It has been reported to me that you caused damage to a section of railings alongside the highway which belongs to Devon County Council.

"The council is entitled to recover the costs from the person responsible for the damage. An invoice will be raised in due course in respect of the cost of these works, and sent to you for settlement."

Devon County Council now say that sending the letter was an error that happened because they were not fully aware of the circumstances of the accident.

A council statement said: "This letter is a mistake and should not have been sent. We will not be asking the family to pay for the damage. We apologise to them for the concern and distress that this may have caused them."

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OldRidgeback | 13 years ago

Perhaps the council officials could have saved themselves the embarassment if they'd investigated the details of the incident properly first. I hope the lad's recovery continues.

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