Pain of compensation hits councils hard


By Cara Sulieman
COUNCILS across Scotland have shelled out over £30,000 in compensation to children who have trapped their fingers in school doors.

Over the past three years, six children have claimed compensation for the common childhood accident, with many blaming ‘self-closing’ doors.

The largest single payment was a whopping £14,083.12 paid out to one pupil in the Highland Council area for the damage caused.

The lowest payment was still a significant £2698, paid out after an incident in a West Lothian school.

Other local authorities wouldn’t release such detailed records of compensation claims, meaning that the real cost of this common accident could be much higher.

As the number of claims rises, councils are having to fix safeguards in order to satisfy health and safety officials.

A number of local authorities have since installed hinge covers on their school doors. A plastic strip is attached over the gap in the hinge side of the door, preventing little fingers from getting trapped.

Starting from £6 each, the hinge covers themselves add to the council’s budget

Mark Wallace, Campaigns Director at the Taxpayer’s Alliance is shocked by the amount of cash spent on these claims.

He said: “It’s sad. The compensation culture has got so out of hand that some people some happy to claim such large amounts of taxpayer’s money.

“Now compensation claims have become so popular councils have a responsibility to be tougher and to take more care of taxpayer’s money.”

Highland Council has taken safety measures to ensure that the number of claims are reduced, installing hinge guards on all doors in the council’s schools.

A Dumfries and Galloway Council spokesperson said: “The council already fits “fingerguards” to doors in new and refurbished school nurseries and has done so for some time.

“We now plan to retro fit these to all other existing nurseries and lower school areas (P1 and P2). A report to Education Committee next week seeks approval for an additional £20K to fit safety features on all doors within Early Years areas of primary schools.”
The childhood mishap hit the headlines in 2007 when a six-year-old girl in Warsop had the tip of her finger chopped off when a school fire door slammed shut.

Notts County Council is yet to agree the compensation amount with Kaitlin Gregson’s family but it is likely to be substantial.