Concerned Burnham-On-Sea councillors have this week given the operators of a ‘lethal’ cash machine and phone box in the town’s High Street a 30-day warning to make ‘urgent’ safety improvements or face having it cordoned off with barricades.
At a meeting last night (Monday April 4th), town councillors aired a number of safety concerns about the ATM machine, which is located at the junction with Adam Street.
Cllr Louise Parkin said: “It’s ludicrous. If I had a machine at the Pavilion that was dangerous, Health and Safety would be on me like a tonne of bricks and it would be removed straight away.”
“I believe we should be pro-active. We have a duty of care to the residents of this town and our visitors. None of us like this ATM. The ATM operator has had ample opportunity since June last year to rectify it, but they don’t give a damn. Well, I do, and I want this sorted.”
“A kid could get tetanus from it at best if they don’t lose an arm. It is absolutely unthinkable that this council allows this to continue. I personally would like to see the whole thing gone – I think they have breached every possible clause in their contract. At worst, I think we should barricade it off as a duty of care.”
Cllr Martin Cox agreed, telling Monday’s meeting: “It is absolutely outrageous. We have been talking with Sedgemoor District Council about this for months now. You can see live wiring coming out through a hole. How that it isn’t enough for the ATM firm to fix it I do not know. I call on them to be publicly shamed for allowing this to happen and for disregarding the request of the local council.”
Town Clerk Denise Emery assured councillors that the ATM isn’t the council’s responsibility and that the ATM company “is directly responsible.” She warned that “barricading it off could mean we get sued for loss of business.”
She continued: “BT have automatic rights to put street things in like this, and they have then leased it to the ATM company via a secondary agreement – they are trying to get it sorted but are not having any joy and don’t want to withdraw the lease. We did have a meeting with Highways last year and they said they would have a look at the agreement but nothing has happened.”
Cllr Andy Brewer said: “I suggest we keep up the pressure on BT in particular and try to raise the profile of the problem. We need to protect ourselves against legal action but this is a public matter we have a degree of responsibility.”
Cllr David Hoggarth added: “I suggest we send both parties a 30 day notice of intent. That would legally be in order. With this degree of inaction over several months, we can then continue with our intention of barricading it. It’s an item of public access. Literally after 31 days we do it to protect our residents.”
But Cllr Michael Clarke responded: “If we do barricade it off, we as a council will have to provide the barricades. If there is any incident resulting from that barricade then we as a Town Council would be liable.”
Cllr Martin Cox responded: “We may not have to put barricades up but just a few notices saying there is a potential danger with this machine and that people should beware.”
Cllr Kate Lawson added: “I find it incredible that it has been reported to the Health and Safety Executive and they refuse to do anything, saying it’s not in their remit. I do think we should go back again. If we had them on our side it would add more clout to what we are trying to do here.”
Councillors voted unanimously to give the ATM company 30 days notice to make safety improvements or further action will be taken.