Deadline for work on stadium was missed, inquest told

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BUILDING improvements to Hillsborough in 1986 were not carried out 18 months after a deadline had been set to meet safety requirements, the inquests into the deaths of 96 Liverpool fans heard.

Remedial work on crush barriers at the ground’s Spion Kop end, opposite the Leppings Lane end where the supporters were killed in 1989, was supposed to have been completed before the start of the 1986-87 season but was still outstanding in February 1988.

Giving evidence, David Moore, a senior environmental health officer at Sheffield City Council between 1983 and 1988, said he had raised concerns about gaps in the railings of the barriers.

He said a child could have fallen through and suffered a fatal accident.

The increased 21,000 capacity of the Spion Kop, due to redevelopment, was approved by the council’s licensing panel on condition that infilling of the crush barriers would take place before Sheffield Wednesday’s match against Everton on August 25, 1986.

The jury sitting in Warrington was told that despite the matter being raised with the club on numerous occasions the condition had still not been met by February 1988.

Fiona Barton QC, representing South Yorkshire Police, asked Mr Moore: “Would your concerns about the safety of that stadium have remained the same in 1988 as they were in 1986?”

Mr Moore replied: “That is correct.”

Miss Barton said: “What steps would you have expected the certifying authority to have taken where a condition had been placed on an approval and was still outstanding over a year later?”

The witness replied: “Clearly I would have expected them to have taken reasonable steps to ensure the compliance of the terms and conditions but I am not an expert in the licensing process.”

Mr Moore said he also voiced concerns in 1986 about a drop of up to 600 millimetres on the Spion Kop terrace that had the potential to cause supporters to trip and fall when leaving the stadium.

That led to the club’s consultant engineer Dr Wilfred Eastwood, he said, threatening him that the club would sue the council for £2m if it stood in the way of the Kop end reopening

The inquest continues on Monday.