Judge criticises holiday firm after two from South Yorkshire struck by Legionnaires’ Disease

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BOSSES of a holiday camp where a Chesterfield woman developed symptoms of Legionnaires’ Disease and another woman died of the condition have been fined £1,000.

Pontins Ltd, which is in administration, was told if it had been making ‘reasonable profits’ it would have been hit with a £500,000 fine but instead was handed a nominal penalty.

But bosses were told they should have ‘on their consciences’ the illness suffered by 63-year-old Margaret Coote, from Chesterfield, and the death of mother-of-two Karen Taylor, 53, from Birmingham.

Mrs Taylor fell ill at Pontins Holiday Centre in Blackpool in July 2009 and died of Legionnaires’ Disease after staying in same chalet where Mrs Coote fell ill, suffering from the same symptoms, earlier in the year.

Pontins Ltd was found guilty of breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act by putting holidaymakers and staff at risk of harm through the management of the water system at the camp.

Temperatures of the water were such that it ‘promoted the proliferation of the bacteria’, Preston Crown Court heard.

The Recorder of Preston Judge Anthony Russell QC said that Pontins Ltd was alerted to a potential problem of legionella bacteria in the water in 2006 when another holidaymaker fell ill.

“Although the illness could not be directly attributed to the visit of a patient who contracted Legionnaires’ Disease the investigation that followed should have alerted the company to the need for vigilance,” the judge said.

“The evidence revealed that for a considerable period of time the company was aware of the water temperature problems not only from these reports but also their own employees who expressed their concerns.

“There was a serious failure of management to address these issues.”

Warnings were ignored which ‘must have been considered at the highest level of management’, he continued.

“Even after the incident involving Mrs Coote was known about, no action was taken with the consequence that Mrs Taylor was put at risk,” added the judge.