Manhole cover thieves putting lives in danger

PUBLISHED: 08:00 22 July 2011

(click on image for larger view)Barry Gwilt picturedby the  drain cover holes near his homeon Bath road , Upper Langford.

(click on image for larger view)Barry Gwilt picturedby the drain cover holes near his homeon Bath road , Upper Langford.


LIVES are being put at risk by thieves who 
steal drain and manhole covers, and leave 
dangerously deep holes in the road, according to worried residents.

With the value of scrap metal increasing, crooks have been swiping whatever they can, from lead on the roofs of buildings and trailers off driveways to copper wiring in empty houses.

More and more roads are being targeted across North Somerset.

Countless drain and manhole covers are disappearing and, as North Somerset Council does not carry replacements, deep holes are being left for months on end while new ones are made.

Barry Gwilt, of Upper Langford, said he knows of several holes which are posing a danger.

He says that, as one car attempted to go around the bollards covering one manhole in Langford, it collided with Barry’s wife, Julie, as she was driving on the other side.

Barry, of Bath Road, said: “Lives are being put at risk. Her window was smashed, the car had to be sent to the garage and my wife was pretty shaken up by it.

“The drain covers were taken months ago but the council still hasn’t replaced them. Surely this is a health and safety issue. They should have been replaced as they have been missing for three months.

“More and more covers are being taken around the villages, and the plastic temporary bollards are not good enough – and my wife’s accident proves it.

“There aren’t any street lights around here either. Are the cash cuts so bad that our safety now has to be compromised?”

Barry, aged 63, said he has seen many other problem areas in villages such as Wrington, Congresbury and Churchill.

A council spokesman said residents need to be alert and report any suspicious activity immediately to the police.

The spokesman said: “These thefts are putting road users in danger. We are getting replacement covers but these have to be individually made - we can’t just buy them off the shelf.

“The replacement covers will not have a scrap value and we want people to remain vigilant and help the police catch those responsible for the thefts.”

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