Hillsborough ground safety target missed

The scene unfolding at Hillsborough. PA.
The scene unfolding at Hillsborough. PA.
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Building improvements to Hillsborough in 1986 were not carried out 18 months after a deadline had been set to meet safety requirements, the inquests into the deaths of 96 Liverpool fans heard.

Remedial work on crush barriers at the ground’s Spion Kop end, opposite the Leppings Lane end where the supporters were killed in 1989, was supposed to have been completed before the start of the 1986 season but was still outstanding in February 1988.

David Moore, a senior environmental health officer at Sheffield Council between 1983 and 1988, raised concerns about gaps in the railings of the barriers.

The increased 21,000 capacity of the Spion Kop, due to redevelopment, was approved by the council’s licensing panel on condition that infilling of the crush barriers would take place before Sheffield Wednesday’s match against Everton on August 25, 1986.

The jury sitting in Warrington was told that despite the matter being raised with the club on numerous occasions the condition had not been met by February 1988.

Fiona Barton QC, representing South Yorkshire Police, asked Mr Moore: “Would your concerns about the safety have remained the same in 1988 as in 1986?”

Mr Moore replied: “That is correct.”

Miss Barton said: “What steps would you have expected the certifiying authority to have taken?”

The witness said: “Reasonable steps to ensure the compliance of the terms, but I am not an expert in the licensing process.”

Mr Moore said he also voiced concerns in 1986 about a drop of up to 600mm on the Spion Kop terrace that had the potential to cause fans to trip and fall.

But Andrew Waters, representing Sheffield Wednesday, suggested to Mr Moore his safety fears were ‘not the picture you were painting’ in a report in which he said ‘the stands and associated areas are subject to excellent standards of maintenance and upkeep’ – with a reference to the 600mm drop as ‘a minor significant’.

Mr Moore told Mr Waters that was ‘a poorly constructed conclusion of my report’ and added the gradient was a concern.