A pre-inquest review at Woking Coroner’s Court has heard that a drain and pothole in Weybridge posed a "real risk" of causing a fatality. Ralph Brazier, a 52-year-old tech entrepreneur, died when he came off his bike in Weybridge Road during a ride with Twickenham Cycling Club on March 1.
There were reports at the time that several residents had spoken to council chiefs about the pothole, which was marked with red paint for repair. Within 24 hours of Brazier’s death, the hole had been filled in.
Get Surrey reports how Martin Porter, representing Brazier’s family, has pointed to flaws in Surrey County Council policy. He said there had been an inspection of the drain and pothole five days before the incident.
“It was obviously dangerous at the time of the inspection on February 25, and in no way should it have been a matter that the council should leave in situ for five days. I suggest that for a cyclist it posed a real risk of death.”
Speaking about the nature of the hazard, Porter added: “It is likely that it would trap the front wheel. It means it is likely a cyclist would go over the handle bars and, as in this case, hit their head.”
Julian Waters, representing Surrey County Council, disputed the claims: “To suggest there was a real and immediate risk to life cannot be borne out in evidence."
Waters said inspector Steve Bender identified the defect on February 25, marked it and repaired it. He said complaints about road condition had been addressed, adding: “The permanency of the repair – that is the cause of what occurred on this occasion.”
Waters did however admit that a grate had been fitted at the wrong angle and one side of the flange was not attached. He said this may have been why there was such a rapid deterioration of the defect.
“It’s clearly not policy to put grates in the wrong way round,” he said. “I readily accept that this is something that has to be considered.”
Porter also believes there is a case for a wider investigation: “The inspector said that at the time he complied with council policy. One has to look at whether a policy that permits that is suitable.
“Defects posing the highest risk to the public should be coned off and repaired within two hours – but that was not done. I would say it is not the correct decision.
“It must be relevant to look at county council policy that it permits a defect of this type on the road for five days.”