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Bonkers Blog January 2011

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1 January - Bexley’s out-of-hours emergency service - click any image for photo gallery (2 images)

Frost damage Broken coverI was on my way out this morning and started looking at the amount of frost damage to Abbey Road, Belvedere. I spotted a drain cover almost lifted out of the road surface which I shall report on Tuesday but then I spotted a broken cast iron access cover. Fortunately it wasn’t very big but it was in the middle of the road not far from a bend. A wide car wheel wouldn’t go down it but a motorcycle’s might be affected. 50 years ago I came off a motorbike that hit a near identical hole and was lucky to escape with my life as I was catapulted into a wall. No helmets in those days; so at some inconvenience I returned home to report the danger to the council.

After a bit of telephone button pushing I spoke to someone on emergency duty who asked if it was a utility company’s cover. “Probably, but how would I know, it was missing and I didn’t stand in the middle of the road looking at it for long.” “In that case it isn’t our responsibility, I can give you some utility company phone calls if you like.” I took down the numbers but I didn’t have time to go back to assess who the hole might belong to and then phone them. So I left it. I’m going to feel pretty bad when I go to photograph it tomorrow if there has been an accident. I suspect all will be well, the hole was no bigger (but much deeper) than the potholes that the council regularly ignores.

In my view the episode indicates that council procedures are inadequate, but it doesn’t care about potholes so I suppose one should not expect it to care about missing access covers. I know they care about stolen drain water gullies and assumed it was because they were death traps; why the different attitude to similar dangers? A procedure that relies on anonymous telephone callers ringing the utility companies is an accident waiting to happen, the council should do it themselves to ensure it is done. It was only luck that it isn’t a big hole, they didn’t bother to ask.

Photos added 08:30 on 2 January.

 

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