Noise row documents were withheld - claim




Stoke Sentinal


Roper - Alton Towers

A Pollution expert has been accused of withholding important documents about noise levels from a couple fighting a legal battle against Alton Towers. Helen Woollaston, an officer with Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, was called back to court yesterday after it emerged documents she had given to the Alton Towers legal team did contain information about noise complaints and sound levels above the legally permitted level.

At the hearing on Friday, Miss Woollaston had denied giving such documents to Alton Towers.

But yesterday, Stephen Hockman, acting for Stephen and Suzanne Roper in their case against Alton Towers, asked her: "Do you accept you gave incorrect evidence last Friday". She replied: "Possibly I did." At this point, Deputy District Judge Timothy Gascoyne advised her: "You do not need to answer any of Mr Hockman's questions on this matter, because you might say something that will incriminate you." After this, Miss Woollaston refused to answer any more questions about her reasons for the inaccuracy, except to say: "It was a major oversight on my part." The court later heard how Richard Buxton, the Roper's solicitor, had asked Miss Woollaston for documents about noise levels from Alton Towers, three months after she had already given them to the Alton Towers defence team.

Mr Hockman said: "You told Mr Buxton that he could only have the information if he asked the permission of all the complainants at Alton Towers.

"Yet you gave all this straight to Mr Whitehouse, Tussauds' solicitor, the very people who have been causing these complaints.

He added: "I put it to you that when Alton Towers wanted information there was no problem, but when anyone else wanted to obtain information, every difficulty was put in their way." The documents collated by Miss Woollaston showed Alton Towers had breached the Public Entertainment Licence noise level of 65 decibels during an MPeople concert in June 1996, and 12 times during a Tina Turner concert a month later.

On both occasions, no action was taken by the district council.

Mr Hockman read from the pollution officer's report that on August 1, 1999 at a Millennium concert in the park, a Mr and Mrs Brown, of Farley Cottage, complained of unbearable noise coming from the sound system in the park.

The case continues.