Caravan Park Owner Fined Over Power Cut

The owner of a well-known park home site in Purbeck has been prosecuted at Bournemouth Magistrates Courts by Purbeck District Council.

Ian Stainer, the owner of the Silent Woman caravan park at Coldharbour in Wareham, has been ordered to pay a fine of £1,000, £15 victim’s surcharge and costs to the Council of £6,328 for breaching the terms of his licence.

On the night of 20 December 2009, one of the coldest nights of the year when temperatures dropped to at least -5C, an electricity power failure caused homes on the site to be plunged into darkness and left many residents without heating. 

The court was told that the electrical system on the residential park had become overloaded causing a power failure to at least 17 homes and that, as a result, one elderly resident suffered suspected hypothermia and was admitted to hospital.

Upon being informed of the power failure that evening, Mr Stainer went to the park, but only arranged for an electrician to investigate the problem the following morning. In the meantime Mr Stainer was heard to tell some residents “you will have to snuggle up overnight,”

Many residents were left with no heating until the power was restored later the following day by Scottish and Southern Energy engineers after they were advised of the situation by Mr Stainer’s electrician.

The court heard evidence from Scottish and Southern Energy that the failure was caused by an excessive load on the customer’s network.  It also heard that Scottish and Southern Energy operates an emergency system and would have prioritised a visit to the park, where there are a number of elderly residents, if they had been made aware of the situation that night.

Cllr Ezzard the Council’s housing Spokes person said

“This should send a clear message to all site owners that they have a responsibility for the health, safety and wellbeing of all of their residents.  I hope this serves as a warning to Mr Stainer that he has a duty of care to fulfil.”  

Richard Conway, Principal Environmental Health Officer investigating the incident said

“I am delighted that we have been able to successfully prosecute this case. We felt that because of the seriousness of the incident, it was clearly in the public’s interest that we took action. I would also like to thank those residents who came forward and gave evidence.”

The site licence for the Silent Woman Park is issued by Purbeck District Council.  It requires the owner to provide an electrical supply which is “sufficient in all respects to meet all reasonable demands of the caravans”; failure to do so is a criminal offence.