Bin collection ‘almost killed’ Horsham resident

Karen Nicholls beside her damaged garden wall
Karen Nicholls beside her damaged garden wall

A refuse lorry missed a woman relaxing in her garden by less than two feet, she says.

Ben Dolley, who was also in the garden at the time told the County Times: “Acorn, not only destroyed our 120 year old boundary wall but also very nearly killed my partner.”

He and Karen Nicholls, both 35 of Rushams Road, are not only enraged by the danger the accident put them in, but also a £2000 bill they claim they are now facing to mend the wall.

Recalling the incident on Good Friday April 6, Karen is very thankful her 22 month old son Matthew, who had been helping her hang out the washing, was out of harm’s way.

“It was a nice sunny day and I had just put my toddler in bed and decided to have half an hour just relaxing in the garden,” she said.

“The next thing I know there was the most almighty bang. Bricks just started falling into the garden and missed me by about 18 inches.

“As they did it I just sat there and couldn’t believe it. It was sheer disbelief at what was happening.

“Then it stopped and he just started driving off so I was straight up from my seat and chasing them down the street.”

Ben said he has been told the wall will cost £5000 to fix but when Horsham District Council’s insurance company administered its assessment of the damage it offered to pay just £3,000 as the assessor claimed ‘it was quite an old wall which would fall down eventually anyway’.

Karen is ‘less than happy’ with the offered compensation, and remains very angry but ultimately releived she and her family escaped without harm.

Another district resident has been even less succesful in gaining compenasation for damage she claims was caused by an Acorn Plus truck.

Marion Fitzgerald, 58, of Streetfield Road, Slinfold, was waiting for her friend outside her home on Tuesday April 24.

She said: “I noticed the bins were very close to my van and thought it’s a good job I was outside and would make sure they were careful.”

Mrs Fitzgerald, who is disabled and relies on the specialised van, crossed the road to speak to her friend and when she walked back she noticed a large dent and scratches on the bonnet.

“I’m just disgusted that they can keep doing this,” she said. “The trucks are too big to see all around.”

After sending a letter of complaint and photos to HDC, she received a reply from HDC’s insurance company which said the photos do not ‘suggest an act of negligence’.

It said: “Having viewed your photos of the damage to your vehicle the damage is not consistent with the size of the wheelie bins, also there seems to be yellow paint transfer around the area of damage when the wheelie bins are green and the refuse trucks are white.”

A spokesperson for Horsham District Council said: “Horsham District Council is aware of both of these claims. It deals with all claims relating to the operation of its refuse vehicles through its insurers and is unable to comment on individual cases.”