Harpenden girl’s trauma after railings injury

PUBLISHED: 07:00 17 February 2011

Leyton Green, Harpenden.

Leyton Green, Harpenden.

Archant

AN 11-YEAR-OLD girl who tripped and impaled herself on a spike while returning a library book in Harpenden has been left with a scar and says she still suffers from nightmares following the incident.

Maisie London, 11, was injured as she rushed to return the book in November, tripped on her foot and fell on the spiked chain fencing on Leyton Green.

The spike tore Maisie’s jeans and pierced her thigh leaving a hole that required eight stitches.

The doctor who saw Maisie at Luton and Dunstable Hospital told her that had she fallen on her stomach or her head, her injuries could have been very serious if not fatal.

The wound proved so painful that Maisie was forced to take time off school and when her original stitches didn’t hold, she had to endure another eight stitches.

She said: “I feel self-conscious to wear a skirt at school because people stare at my scar and also as I play for Watford Academy and Harpenden Colts football teams, when I wear shorts I still get people staring and commenting on it.

“I’m dreading the summer when my legs will be exposed.

“The council doesn’t seem to care about me as they haven’t removed them and I thought Harpenden was a safe place to live because that’s why we moved here. I can’t understand what the spikes are protecting, “just grass”.

“If the council think it’s a pretty decoration, then clearly they don’t care about the people of Harpenden’s safety.”

Given the injury she sustained, the Year 7 pupil at Roundwood Park School said she was nervous about being in places where the spikes were.

The accident, which prompted Maisie’s mother to contact the Herts Advertiser to raise the question about why the spiked railings were still in place when they were so clearly a health hazard, is now at a legal stage after initial attempts to enquire about compensation were rejected by Harpenden Town Council’s insurers.

Debi London, Maisie’s mother, said she was determined to pursue the matter given the scarring that the fall had left on her daughter’s leg and the fact that this could happen to someone else.

“She’s a young girl and girls are very conscious of their legs and this scar, which is going to show up in the summer when she wears shorts or skirts, is going to make her very self-conscious and I’m angry on her behalf.”

Debi and the clerk of Harpenden Town Council, John Bagshaw, spoke after the incident was reported and Debi said that the conversation had been very positive.

“I wanted to speak with them about removing these link fences because they just seemed so out of date and dangerous and I got the impression that this would be possible.

“I was asked to write a letter outlining the incident, which I did and the next people I heard from were the town council’s insurers.”

In Debi’s letter she asks the council to justify the fences in the town and mentions that she will take further legal action to obtain compensation for Maisie.

It is this that prompted the town council to refer the matter to their insurers, something they are legally bound to do.

The insurers informed Debi that she had failed to prove that there had been any negligence on the part of the council but her solicitor is now pursuing this matter on her behalf. He is, she says, quite confident that she has a case given the substantial scarring on Maisie’s leg.

Debi added; “It’s absurd, in this day and age when everyone’s obsessed with health and safety and you can’t even walk around with a hot coffee, that the council are allowed to keep these spiked fences there.

“They don’t even serve a purpose and they’re medieval – this is the 21st century.”

Harpenden Town Council declined to comment on the issue because legal action was being taken.

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