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F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10382
Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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The alley way behind my house sunk causing damage to my

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The alley way behind my house sunk causing damage to my garden wall. The damage is either caused by Sefton Council or United Utilites. Unified Utilities have reported that the drains under the alley way are fine and it is not their fault and the council is also stating that it is not their fault. The issue is that the council originally came out to fix the alley way but said that the wall leaning over (caused by the alley) was dangerous so they could not undertake the work. I have now taken down my garden wall after taking loads of pictures and the council have only put a temporary measure in to make it "safe". After ringing up to tell them that it needs to be fixed properly so that my wall can go back up they just told me that they will keep making it safe if it sinks again that is all they will be doing. The garden wall being down is making my home insecure as many people walk up and down the alley. What I am after is for the council to fix it properly and possibly rebuild the wall due to the damage caused by them.

How old is the wall?

What has caused the subsidence?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The wall is probably about 100 years old but it was solid built and the subsidence cause is unknown due to United Utilites saying that their drains are fine and Sefton council saying that it is not their problem

Thank you.

This happened to the wall on the other side in the view of the alleyway which looks like it’s now made of breeze blocks? Did that also fall down?

What about the wall in the view of the alleyway, which is closest to the camera, on the left? Has that also been rebuilt?

I notice that the alleyway is gated. Who actually owns the alleyway?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The T junction wall with my door and the white door next door has been taken down for the council to undertake the work as it it them who has adopted the alley way. This has left more than enough room to work with but they still won't fix the problem. The breeze block wall is still standing due to being reinforced underneath but I have concerns that it will fall due to the constant sinking.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
This is what it looks like now we have had to improvise with security

If the alleyway is adopted, I am surprised that the council have not objected to the gate.

What about the wall in the view of the alleyway, which is closest to the camera, on the left? Has that also been rebuilt?

You say that the world win takedown for the council to undertake the work. Undertake which work? I thought you said the council said they were not liable for this?

On what basis have you suggested that United Utilities may be responsible? That the drains have collapsed?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The council and UU have both said that that they are not responsible meaning that I am left in the middle as it is not my fault either I am after someone to take responsibility that's what help I am afer

The problem that you have here is the age of the property and establishing what is called causation.

Ie, the cause of the problem.

For you to have a claim in negligence (failure to maintain) you have to prove that is a duty of care (there is) that the duty has been breached (problematical) and that the consequences were reasonably foreseeable) also problematical).

If the drains have not collapsed and are not leaking and there has been no defective work by the utility company in this area, then they cannot be liable.

If the local authority have adopted the alleyway, they may be liable in negligence if you can that they have done something or failed to do something which has led to this happening.

You are therefore going to need some evidence from a structural engineer which says that this has been caused by some problem in the alleyway and that the problem was reasonably foreseeable and could have been prevented with maintenance. Without that evidence any claim against the local authority will fail. This is not going to be an easy claim if the local authority resolutely decide they are going to defend your action. If you do the risk of going to court, you can make a complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman will decide whether this is the local authority’s responsibility or not.

It may be simply that the wall was not built on good foundations 100 years ago and it’s just taken this long to gradually slide in which case, neither the court nor the ombudsman would find in your favour.

Can I clarify anything else for you?

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Best wishes.


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