Spedeworth International were this week fined for a number of Health and Safety charges for failures which put visitors at risk at Foxhall Stadium.
The company that promotes stock car racing at the stadium were ordered to pay fines and costs totalling £118,000 at Ipswich Magistrates Court on Thursday 19 October.
Cllr Steve Gallant, Cabinet Member for Community Health said:
“This week’s conclusion reflects that Spedeworth fell far short of the appropriate standards and failed to put in place measures to manage risks to health and safety at Foxhall Stadium.
“We’d like to thank the public for their support in bringing this case to court and bringing our attention to the fact that emergency exits had been locked at the stadium.
“Ultimately, our role is to ensure that the appropriate safety measures are in place to protect everyone at the ground and we’re now satisfied that Spedeworth has now made improvements.”
In October 2015, the Suffolk Coastal Safety Advisory Group visited Foxhall Stadium following concerns identified at an earlier meeting with the stadium’s manager.
Prohibition Notices were served by an Environmental Health Officer on Spedeworth International (East Anglia) Ltd in October 2015 preventing access to the grandstands until emergency structural repairs had been carried out and emergency exits and evacuation plans provided to ensure people could leave the grandstands and surrounding area safely.
Further remedial works were required and a formal improvement notice was served in November 2015 to secure the necessary improvements but Spedeworth International (East Anglia) Ltd failed to undertake these works within the timescales in the notice. The works needed to ensure the grandstands were structurally safe were subsequently completed by the end of June 2016.
In April 2016 a member of the public contacted the Council to say they had attended an event and the emergency exits had all been locked. When Environmental Health Officer visited Foxhall Stadium on 30th April 2016, the eight emergency exits were found to be locked whilst racing was taking place.
At a hearing on 25 July 2017, in a prosecution brought by Suffolk Coastal District Council, the company pleaded guilty to four charges under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 in relation to:
When sentencing Spedeworth International (East Anglia) Ltd on 19 October 2017 for the four charges, District Judge Celia Dawson referred to Sentencing Council Definitive Guideline for Health and Safety Offences and considered the degree of culpability to be high in all four charges before assessing the likely harm arising from the company’s failings.
The breakdown of the fine included £20,000 for the lack of maintenance resulting in the stands being found in an unsafe condition, £27,000 for failing to comply with the Improvement Notice that required additional work to ensure the stands were safe, £20,000 for not having an adequate evacuation plan in place in October 2015 and £33,000 for holding a race meeting in April 2016 whilst eight emergency exits were locked.
The Council was awarded £18,000 in costs.