I’m still waiting: Tree fall insurance wrangle rumbles on nearly a year later

Mike Hall with a sheaf of correspondence he has had with the council and the council's solicitors
Mike Hall with a sheaf of correspondence he has had with the council and the council's solicitors

A Todmorden man whose car was damaged by a falling tree when he visited a car rally last year is still waiting for his claim to be settled almost a year later.

Mr Mike Hall visited Hebden Bridge Rotary Club’s Vintage Weekend on Sunday, August 4, last year and was returning to his car when, on a windless day, the tree crashed down onto the roof, its stump damaging the bonnet.

The club was not potentially liable for the damage but Calderdale Council, owner of Calder Holmes Park where the event was being held, was, said Mr Hall.

Mr Hall said his main concern was not the money, which he would give to a local charity, but that the council’s insurers, Zurich, view seemed to be that as the trees had been inspected seven months previously, they were released from any liability.

He felt this was not good enough, as the incident could have been more serious, he said. “If this had have hit anyone they would have been injured at best and could have been killed. It was a glorious day but between January and August it was grim weather at the start of the year.

“It took five people to lift it off. People were sat at the side of it and had it hit them they would have been injured. I was literally six or seven feet away. It was sudden,” said Mr Hall.

Mr Hall questioned whether the insurance was suitable in light of the line pursued and had become very frustrated by a succession of holding letters. “I think the council are shirking their responsibility. I think they are hiding behind a box ticking exercise,” he said.

He has also written to Calder Valley MP, Craig Whittaker, about the matter.

Calderdale Council’s Acting Head of Finance, Nigel Broadbent, said: “All claims for compensation from Calderdale Council are handled by the Council’s public liability insurers, Zurich Municipal, Leeds. We received Mr Hall’s claim about an incident on August 4, 2013, at Calder Holmes Park. We referred his claim to Zurich Municipal and they replied to him after a detailed investigation.

“Mr Hall has submitted a number of subsequent enquiries, to which Zurich has responded. The most recent enquiry continues to be dealt with as promptly as possible.

“We are sympathetic to Mr Hall’s situation but we take our health and safety responsibilities seriously and we believe we’ve taken every care to help prevent an incident such as this.”