Guilty plea over bus station death

Charles Elad was jailed for three years
Charles Elad was jailed for three years

Bedford Borough Council has pleaded guilty to health and safety failings after the death of a Biggleswade woman.

Nicola Berridge, aged 53, was killed after being knocked down by a construction truck as she got off from a bus at Bedford Bus Station in February 2015.

An inquest in 2016 heard Mrs Berridge, of Potton Road, walked between two parked buses across a zebra crossing on the Bedford Borough Council-controlled site.

She suffered multiple injuries and died at the scene.

Today (Thursday) Bedford Borough Council, Cambus, the trading name for Stagecoach, and DJT Surfacing Limited appeared before Luton Crown Court.

They are being prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive following the fatal accident during the bus station’s redevelopment works in February 2015.

The works involved demolishing the old bus station and building a new one.

Cambus faces four charges of breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act between February 2013 and February 2015.

One of the charges involves failing to ensuring pedestrians and vehicles could freely circulate.

Bedford Council also faces four charges under sections of the same Health and Safety at Work Act.

The accusations include failing to ensure people in their employment were not exposed to risk, failing to make a suitable assessment of the risk to pedestrians being struck by construction vehicles, and not taking reasonable steps to ensure their contractors could work safely.

DJT Surfacing Limited faces three charges under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

At the court hearing Bedford Borough Council pleaded guilty to the charges.

Cambus did not enter a plea and DJT pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Judge Andrew Bright QC said there will be a pre-trial review on 18 October and set a date on 11 March next year.

The trial is expected to take four weeks.

Bedford Borough Council will be sentenced at the end of the trial.

Coroner Tom Osborne heard how the council and its primary contractor Britannia had drawn up a system of traffic management at the start of the redevelopment.

As the refurbishment project overran into early 2015, the council contracted DJT Surfacing Ltd to carry out paving work around the new building, but the traffic rules were not applied to their vehicles.

Mr Osborne concluded Miss Berridge died as the result of an accident. He said the risk assessments carried out should have ensured vehicles were escorted on the site as “an obvious precaution.”