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Dad faces £400k bill after castle wall collapses outside his home

The 40ft-high retaining wall came crashing down following weeks of heavy rain and storms in Worcester.

Watch: Dad facing massive bill after ancient castle wall collapses outside his home

A homeowner faces an astonishing £400,000 repair bill after an ancient castle wall collapsed outside his property.

Adam Giagnotti, 42, was shocked when the 40ft-high retaining wall came crashing down following weeks of heavy rain and storms on 9 February. Tonnes of rubble and mud blocked outside his home in Reservoir Lane in Worcester following the landslide.

Father-of-two Giagnotti, whose three-bedroom semi-detached home is above the wall, says Worcestershire County Council and his insurers have now told him he is responsible for paying for the repairs despite the partition pre-dating his house by 150 years.

Giagnotti, who owns two restaurants in the city, said they were given eye-watering quotes of £400,000 for rebuilding, clearing debris and fixing the traffic light system. He added they had quotes for £9,000 to £32,000 just to design how to fix the wall before any work was done.

He said: "That [£400,000] is the figure. The council has not taken responsibility. They have been useless. They are charging me for everything, including the traffic light system. I'm on my own really. It's not great.

"The council should take responsibility at least for clearing it up and making it safe. We have the correct insurance but they're refusing to pay because they say the wall was inadequate.”

The repairs will cost an estimated £400,000. (SWNS)
The repairs will cost an estimated £400,000. (SWNS)
Adam Giagnotti says the liability for the Reservoir Lane wall collapse has been shifted entirely onto his shoulders. (SWNS)
Adam Giagnotti says the liability for the Reservoir Lane wall collapse has been shifted entirely onto his shoulders. (SWNS)

Giagnotti, who paid £216,000 for his home in March 2015, says his children’s sandpit was near the crumbling wall and he is relieved they were not hurt.

He added: “Emotionally this has broken me and my family. The kids’ sandpit was on top of the wall and they were playing in it the night before it collapsed.

“That's the only thing that has kept me going, knowing they're not dead.”

Another section of the wall collapsed in 1998 following flooding which took months to repair. Giagnotti said his insurers knew about this incident but now say the wall falls outside the boundary of his property.

A petition has been set up on change.org in a bid to force the council to pay for the wall repairs.

A spokesperson for Worcestershire County Council said: “Our Highway Status and Extent team completed their search enquiry to confirm ownership. The conveyance on the property confirms that ownership and maintenance of the retaining wall rests with the landowner.

"We can confirm that the area was made safe following this wall collapse, and traffic management installed. There are daily costs being incurred as a result of the traffic lights at this location. On completion of the required works to the wall, we will then discuss further with the resident.”

Dad-of-two Adam Giagnotti paid £216,000 for his home in March 2015. (SWNS)
Dad-of-two Adam Giagnotti paid £216,000 for his home in March 2015. (SWNS)

What are your rights if an insurer won't pay out?

The Citizens Advice Bureau says if you have a dispute with your insurer about not paying the full amount of your claim, first try to negotiate with them. Check if your policy covers your complaint and then write to your insurer with details, giving them time to reply.

If you're not happy with their response, make a formal complaint using their complaints process. If the complaint remains unresolved, you can complain to the Policyholder and Market Assistance Department and then the Financial Ombudsman Service.

The ombudsman's decision is binding on your insurer but if you disagree, you can take legal action.

To take your complaint to the ombudsman, you must do so within six months of receiving a final response from the trader or within six years of the event you are complaining about, with a three-year extension if you discovered the reason to complain later.

However, if you’re outside these time limits you can still refer the complaint to the ombudsman. They may still investigate your complaint as long as the trader doesn’t object.

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