Toddler's death prompts safety review

SAFETY measures in mid Suffolk woodlands are today being reviewed, in the wake of an incident in which a toddler was killed by a falling tree.The death of three-year-old Benjamin Davey in October 2002 has had widespread implications for local authorities - and Mid Suffolk council is now reviewing its procedures.

SAFETY measures in mid Suffolk woodlands are today being reviewed, in the wake of an incident in which a toddler was killed by a falling tree.

The death of three-year-old Benjamin Davey in October 2002 has had widespread implications for local authorities - and Mid Suffolk council is now reviewing its procedures.

Suffolk Coastal council, which owns the woodland involved, The Grove, in Felixstowe, was faced with the prospect of legal action following the incident. It has since spent more than £125,000 on improving its monitoring systems and is now a model for other authorities wishing to safeguard their practises.

David Mitchell, landscape and tree officer at Mid Suffolk council, said: "We will be drawing pretty heavily on the work and experience of Suffolk Coastal district council.


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"With people being much more aware of issues about liability nowadays, we need to be careful and to make sure the procedures are in place."

As a result of the incident, which was declared by a coroner as an accident, officers at Mid Suffolk council have already introduced some changes.

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However, Mr Mitchell said it was a "long way" from having the ideal system but added checks have been stepped up following the tragedy. These are being focused on "high-use" woodlands to weed out vulnerable trees.

A report into the matter has found the council currently has no adequate system of tree inspection or monitoring in place, with only two members of staff qualified to do the work.

The matter will be re-visited at a meeting of the council on September 9, when issues of funding will be discussed.

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