Center Parcs Woburn fined £250k for safety failings

The tree climbing activity at Center Parcs
The tree climbing activity at Center Parcs

Center Parks Woburn has been fined for safety failings after a girl fell from a tree.

At Luton Crown Court yesterday, the firm was handed a fine of £250,000 and ordered to pay the prosecution costs on behalf of Central Bedfordshire Council.

On 22 October 2015, a Center Parcs employee was supervising seven children in an organised tree climbing activity. This employee was tasked with ensuring the children were safe by giving them a safety talk, fitting a harness to each child, and clipping each child to the fall-arrest system prior to the activity.

One of the children, aged 8, started to climb the tree, without being clipped and secured into the fall arrest system. When she reached approximately 10 feet she fell and sustained a broken wrist.

In court today, Center Parcs pleaded guilty and was fined £250,000 with additional costs of £14,000.

Cllr Ian Dalgarno, executive member for community services, said: “Our investigations found inadequate risk assessments in place, an unsafe system of work, and inadequate monitoring to ensure that the tree climbing activity was safe.

“This prosecution sends a message to businesses that there are serious consequences if health and safety laws are breached, and members of the public placed at risk.”

A Center Parcs spokesman said: “Center Parcs accepts full responsibility in relation to a regrettable incident involving a guest participating in a tree-climbing activity at Center Parcs Woburn Forest in 2015.

“We would like to take this opportunity to apologise to the family involved for the distress this incident has caused. We take the health, safety and well-being of our guests extremely seriously, and from the outset have co-operated fully and pro-actively with the investigation undertaken by Central Bedfordshire Council.

“As a result of this incident we immediately reviewed and amended our operating procedures in relation to the tree-climbing activity, and have continued to provide support to the family involved.

“Center Parcs welcomes over 2.2m guests each year to it five UK villages and we are proud of our excellent health and safety record over the last 30 years. We will continue to adhere to stringent health and safety policies and procedures in order to ensure our guests enjoy a safe short break with us”.