Dispute over car damage
5:30am Saturday 23rd August 2014 in By Elizabeth Mackley
MEDICALLY retired Pat Willis claims Swindon Council stripped him of his independence after stones thrown up by a hedge strimmer damaged his car.
The 60-year-old lives opposite a steep bank in Homefarm, High-worth, and Swindon Council uses an industrial strimmer to cut back the grass which grows there periodically.
But when the council’s team last carried out the work in June, a number of stones were thrown into the air by the strimmer and peppered Pat’s Jaguar XJ6.
Pat, who has difficulty walking and suffers from a range of disabilities including fibromyalgia and a muscle wasting disease, said: “I was heart broken when I saw what had happened.
“It was covered in grass and when I swept that away I saw it was peppered with stone chips.
“I want to sell it on but I can’t in that state.
“It only happened because they use these great big industrial strimmers which could take their foot off.
Pat filed a claim for compensation with the council in order to pay for the repairs, which will cost more than £500.
But the council rejected this, claiming a search was completed before work was carried out and the operative asked Pat to move the car before he started work.
Pat appealed against the council’s decision, saying the search was not carried out thoroughly because the grass had grown so long it had obscured the stones which had damaged the car.
Pat said: “They might take a quick look and pick up a bottle or a can, but they can’t pick up every stone and I can understand that, especially if they let it grow so long before they cut it.
“Normally I would move my car but on this occasion I couldn’t because I’m not a well man.”
Swindon Council again rejected the appeal, saying that they were not responsible for the damage.
A council spokesman said: “Mr Willis was not offered compensation as he failed to establish any council negligence .
“As we have explained to him , our member of staff checked the area to ensure any rubbish or obstacles were removed prior to carrying out the work.
“He also gave Mr Willis an opportunity to move both his vehicles but he was unable to start one of the cars.
“In light of this and with the permission of Mr Willis our member of staff, who has great experience of cutting grass around parked cars, then proceeded to take extra care when carrying out his work and he was not aware at any point of any stones or debris being thrown from the strimmer head.
“Our staff member also reported that Mr Willis did not mention any damage to his car until the next visit by the grass cutting team.”