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Harlow residents warned about potential dangers of missing drain covers 

News / Sun 10th Jul 2022 am31 09:35am

THE cost-of-living crisis is having ‘knock-off’ effects in many ways, with one particularly worrying aspect being repeated thefts of drain covers across the country.

Essex has suffered hundreds of these since the start of the year, in some cases having covers taken in large numbers along entire streets, leaving Essex Highways with a huge task in making safe and scheduling repairs. The problem has been most acute in Basildon, Harlow and Uttlesford.

The high price of metal has led to thieves stealing the covers and selling them to scrap merchants. 

A significant problem for Essex Highways is that unfortunately, the service can’t simply replace the cover itself, as each sits within its own frame.

In many cases, the frames are very old and finding a matching product is not possible. 

Replacement gullies and frames are not easy to source, particularly given the well documented problems in national and global supply chains. 

Having to replace both the cover and frame is time consuming and costly to the taxpayer –around £1,000 per lost cover/frame depending on location – and can be more where concrete roads are involved mainly due to excavation. 

On top of this, Essex Highways’ teams have the difficult task of making judgements about which ones to address first, with more heavily trafficked routes often given priority.

Cllr Lee Scott, Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Highways Maintenance and Sustainable Transport, said: “Removing drain covers from their rightful location creates potentially dangerous hazards for pedestrians, cyclists and other road-users and is an unnecessary burden on the taxpayer.

“When we are informed of a missing cover, we need to make it safe urgently either with tarmac or a cone signalling the hazard. These remain over the drain until a permanent fix can be organised.

“We can occasionally use plates, but they are generally used for footways as they can’t carry the weight of traffic. If they break, they could end up in the carriageway and become potential safety hazards. Using temporary yellow pedestrian plates also carries a potential safety risk as they can be easily dislodged by traffic.

“We urge the public to report any missing drain covers to us online at: https://www.essexhighways.org/roads-and-pavements/potholes#report. Your report will go straight to our inspectors who can then assess each incident. Please also be vigilant and report any thefts to the Police should you see any take place.

“We understand the frustration caused by delays to repairs but please rest-assured that these situations are treated as high priorities and we will do everything possible to complete a permanent fix as quickly as possible. We also request that the public stay patient as in some instances appropriate replacements are hard to obtain at the moment.”

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9 Comments for Harlow residents warned about potential dangers of missing drain covers :

J
2022-07-10 10:58:32

What the hell has this country come too. Now drain covers being nicked and flogged obviously don’t give a f**k about the dangerous consequences. Wonder what’s next.

Chris
2022-07-10 12:24:29

The rule change a few years ago about needing to be registered with the scrap dealer and only being paid via cheque or bank transfer really cut down the illegal trade of metals didn't it! Focus should be put on scrap handlers for questioning where the drain covers come from! But as always the council's act reactively and look at the after effect problem at fault and not the cause to prevent!

Terry Rackley
2022-07-10 13:39:29

Totally agree Chris. Why don’t the scrap dealers challenge the sellers..?? Because they are all greedy. How can you not be suspicious when somebody fetches in a load of drain covers. And then sees that’s the theft has made local news. ?? Scrap dealers by law have to keep books and records of what they buy & sell. Easy for dealers to inform the council that they have just had a supply of drain covers brought in… and here are the details. …!!! Yeah and pigs might fly..!!!

Terry Rackley
2022-07-10 13:40:01

Why don’t the scrap dealers challenge the sellers..?? Because they are all greedy. How can you not be suspicious when somebody fetches in a load of drain covers. And then sees that’s the theft has made local news. ?? Scrap dealers by law have to keep books and records of what they buy & sell. Easy for dealers to inform the council that they have just had a supply of drain covers brought in… and here are the details. …!!! Yeah and pigs might fly..!!!

Chris Vince
2022-07-10 17:07:00

I raised a couple of concerns about missing drain covers in my ward with County Council. Sadly all they have done thus far is put cones over them. Potentially very dangerous.

Pauline S
2022-07-10 17:40:46

Typical of ECC, Chris. They are not well organised on so many things - not merely drain covers!

KB
2022-07-11 06:43:22

The thieves usually cut the covers up and eight them in with other mixed metals. A new design is needed to prevent them being unofficially removed with higher penalties for thieves and anyone excepting them as scrap.

Kim Oconnor
2022-07-11 09:55:16

A lot of things dangerous, pot holes, missing drain covers. Not putting marking back on the road at ford's garage , dangerous this. I could go on. But just shows how there concerned about people doesn't it, just putting a cone over the top of drains, really!!

Theman
2022-07-11 11:59:50

My company had a trailer stolen. We caught the person responsible the next day( we had the theft on cctv) at a local scrap dealer dropping off catalytic converters and a drain cover. We contacted the police who gave the usual reply of having no one available but we could register on their website,and are still waiting for action, though we did have an offer of victim counselling. You really cannot make it up anymore. Maybe to combat the theft of road furniture the police could regularly visit scrap dealers and at least prosecute the dealers for receiving stolen goods.

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