Call for action on Exmouth's pavements

PUBLISHED: 06:30 02 May 2016

Dawn Hodge's injuries

Dawn Hodge's injuries

Archant

This photograph shows the bruised and bloodied face of pensioner Dawn Hodge after she fell over a loose paving stone in Exmouth.

Dawn, aged 78, from Mudbank Lane, was one of THREE people that day, recently injured, tripping and falling over uneven, loose and dangerous paving stones in Exmouth town centre.

The great-grandmother, who joins a long list of injured people, hurt from falling over in the town centre because of the state of the pavements, has a stark message for Devon County Council (DCC).

“Pull your finger out and get something done about it; don’t sit on your backsides and contemplate.”

The great-grandmother was hurt while she tried to cross a road through The Strand, from the NatWest bank towards the cinema.

Since her accident, Dawn’s family is reluctant to allow her to venture into town alone for fear of her falling again. She now uses a stroller, and relies on taxis, to get around.

“It was like something from a horror movie. I had a hole in my head right through to my skull,” said Dawn.

“I was crossing, next thing I was on the deck. There was blood everywhere. I didn’t knock myself out, and fortunately there were no fractures.

“The pavements are absolutely atrocious; it’s like trying to ride a rollercoaster.

“My message to the council is ‘pull your finger out and get something done about it; don’t sit on your backsides and contemplate’.”

Another casualty that day was 76-year-old Yvonne Beck, of Henrietta Place, Exmouth, who fell, face down, in the Magnolia Centre, tripping over a protruding paving stone, breaking her wrist. She faces six weeks in plaster and cannot drive.

Yvonne said the impact of the fall means she no longer uses the Magnolia Centre.

“I was bleeding from my hands and my knees; I was face down,” she said. “I have started to use a stick, which I absolutely hate but it’s the best thing I can do; it’s given me confidence.

“I have found different ways to go around Exmouth avoiding the Magnolia Centre; I won’t go through again.

“I am just one of many; what will it take before something is done? I consider myself lucky in a way I didn’t suffer a more serious injury.”

Eileen Wragg, county councillor for Exmouth town centre, said she has been lobbying DCC for three years over the dangerous state of the town’s pavements.

She said: “People pay their council tax and expect to be able to walk in reasonable safety. It’s very frustrating for us as councillors to be contacted by people and nothing gets done.

“People are getting injured; their safety and welfare should come first.”

Bernard Hughes, county councillor for Exmouth, who immediately contacted DCC after being shown photos of Dawn Hodge’s injuries, said: “No one can view those injuries and not be very sorry and concerned.”

Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council’s cabinet member for highways, apologised to the injured women.

He said there would be an immediate inspection of the area of The Strand, where Dawn fell, with repairs planned for the following day.

“I’m sorry to hear that Yvonne and Dawn were injured as a result of falls, and I hope they are making a good recovery,” said Cllr Hughes.

“That area of The Strand will be inspected for safety defects today [Wednesday]. Any safety defect repairs will be carried out by the end of the next working day.

“All pavements are inspected regularly; the paving along Magnolia Walk is checked every month.

“This allows us to prioritise potential improvement schemes in our annual programme, which in the current financial year adds up to spending of more than £1.7 million on footways.

“This budget does not enable us to bring every pavement in Devon up to the highest standard. To make sure the money goes as far as possible, the schemes are prioritised.”

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