A Welsh council has been fined £2 million after one of its workers was killed in a tragic incident. Highway workers Stephen Bell was working on Langstone Court Road in Newport, near the M4, when he was involved in a fatal collision with a tractor on July 18, 2019.

The Health and Safety Executive prosecuted Newport City Council saying it failed to take practical steps to ensure Mr Bell's safety at work on the day he died. The council admitted breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £2 million Cardiff Crown Court on Thursday, December 14.

Mr Bell, 57, was described as “a hardworking man who loved his family very much” and his wife Jenny said the events of July 2019 had changed their family’s life forever. For all the latest Newport stories straight to your inbox sign up to our newsletter here. For the latest Newport news, sign up to our newsletter here.

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Cardiff Crown Court heard how Mr Bell and his colleagues had been carrying out resurfacing repairs on the section of Langstone Court Road that runs beneath the M4 motorway on July 18, 2019. At the time of the incident a Newport City Council team leader and the four highway operatives were working on foot and authorised to be on the site.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the council did not take all reasonably practicable steps to organise a safe working environment by ensuring there was a suitable and sufficient safety zone between the road works area and the running lane (the live part of the carriageway), as well as securing the perimeter of the road works site against road workers entering the running lane.

Mr Bell's wife Jenny said: “I do not have the words to express the pain my family and I felt when we heard the news and losing him so suddenly has taken its toll on us all and has left us all heart broken. Stephen was a kind, caring and a hardworking man who loved his family very much. He had a smile that lit up a room, an amazing sense of humour and laughter that was contagious.

“In the years since he’s been gone my family and I have missed so much. I have been unable to share my grandchildren’s birthdays with him. Christmas days without him and family holidays with a very special person missing. Recently, our youngest daughter got married, and didn’t have her father to walk her down the aisle.”

Mrs Bell added: “Since losing Stephen, my daughters have been a pillar of strength to me and I wouldn’t have made it through these dark days without them. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank our family and friends for their continued support.

“Nothing will bring my husband back and no matter what justice takes place, it will never be enough to compensate my family and I for what we have all lost. I just want to make sure nothing like this ever happens again so that no other families experience what we have experienced. I would like to close by taking this opportunity to thank HSE for their thorough investigation and for their support over the last four and half years.”

Newport City Council pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £2 million and ordered to pay costs of £9,780.

Speaking after the hearing on Thursday, HSE inspector Philip Nicolle said: “The council’s failures have had a devastating impact on Stephen Bell’s family. This tragic incident could so easily have been avoided if the council had simply carried out correct control measures and safe working practices.

“We will not hesitate to take action against those that fall below the required standards. Our thoughts remain with Mrs Bell and those who knew and loved Stephen.”

Beverly Owen, Chief Executive at Newport City Council, said: "Newport City Council is extremely sorry for the death of Stephen Bell in 2019, he was a respected and valued colleague. We again offer our sincere condolences to his family for their loss.

“The council takes its health and safety responsibilities very seriously at all times. A guilty plea was entered at the earliest opportunity. Policies, procedures and training were in place at the time of the incident however, thorough and in-depth reviews have also been carried out since the incident.

“Health and safety resources have been increased, procedures have been strengthened, and additional training introduced. The council has learned from this tragic incident and has taken every step to try and ensure this is not able to happen again.”

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