Leeds toddler crushed by ‘rotting’ flagpole EXCLUSIVE

INJURED: River Webster suffered a fractured skull when the pole fell on her.
INJURED: River Webster suffered a fractured skull when the pole fell on her.
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Council officials were today accused of ignoring warnings about a rotting flagpole – months before it collapsed and crushed a toddler.

An investigation is now under way after two-year-old River Webster was seriously injured when the flagpole at Otley Memorial Garden toppled onto her.

The youngster, who lives in the town, was taken to hospital with a fractured skull and broken ankle following the incident.

Now a Leeds City Council insider has told the YEP that bosses in charge of maintaining war memorials had been told it was dangerous SEVERAL months earlier.

He said: “It was rotten and they were told six months before that it was going to fall and could hurt someone.

“There were people who wanted to repair it, but they just ignored it. The decision had no logic. It’s just lucky it wasn’t more serious.”

It is understood River was with her mother, Charlotte Hodge, in the memorial garden when the wooden flagpole came crashing down on her on the morning of March 31.

Firefighters and a Yorkshire Air Ambulance helicopter were called amid fears she was trapped.

But paramedics managed to free her and she was given treatment at the scene before being taken by road ambulance to Leeds General Infirmary.

She had a bad cut in her head and was found to have fractured her skull as well as suffering a double fracture of her ankle.

The YEP understands she has made a good recovery but has to return to the LGI for regular checks and scans.

The family is believed to have taken legal advice following the incident.

A source close to the family said they had been told the council had been warned about the flagpole on April 29 last year – the day Prince William married Kate Middleton.

He said: “If it was established that the council knew about it before what happened they wouldn’t be happy.”

A Leeds City Council spokeswoman said: “We met the girl’s parents as soon as we heard about her accident to express our concern and offer our full support.

“A thorough investigation is taking place into what happened so we cannot comment further at this stage.”

The council insider added that the authority was lagging behind on a rolling programme of safety checks on memorials and headstones in cemeteries.

He said: “There are meant to be tests on headstones to make sure they are stable, but it’s not happening.

“A quarter are in need of repair.”

The council spokeswoman denied that claim.

She added: “Annual checks are made on war memorials in the Leeds area and any requiring maintenance are listed in a schedule of repairs.”

Coun Judith Blake,  leader of Leeds City Council.

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