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Council liable in dispute over home collapse

The High Court has backed Hampshire-based Crowley Civil Engineers in a liability dispute against Rushmoor Borough Council after a family home in Aldershot partially collapsed during public excavation works.

His Honour Judge Thornton said the council had “total disregard” for its legal obligations and ordered it to pay more than £300,000 to Crowley following a settlement with the owners of the property.

The home had been partially destroyed in July 2002 when paving work was carried out on a public open space adjacent to the exposed flank wall.

The work, which was being carried out by Crowley for Rushmoor, triggered a significant withdrawal of support to the flank wall foundations, causing the collapse.

Crowley agreed to pay the owners of the property £384,500, but the council declined to pay anything toward the settlement.

Judge Thornton ordered Rushmoor to reimburse Crowley £307,600 - 80 per cent of the settlement sum - as well as a further 80 per cent of any interest and costs the property owners were entitled to recover from Crowley under the terms of the settlement.

A spokesperson from Rushmoor Borough Council said: “Obviously we regret the incident. We [have since] reviewed our contract management arrangements and we are confident that the chances of something like this happening again are highly unlikely.”