Manhole cover thefts in Welwyn Hatfield cost more than �25,000 so far this year

MANHOLE cover thieves have been blamed for leaving pavements unsafe.

Hatfield worker Alan Norris noticed the gaping holes in the town centre last Tuesday and said it was only a matter of time before someone got seriously injured.

He added: “I just stopped some poor old lady falling down them [the holes].” He said he had called Welwyn Hatfield Council, which is not responsible for maintaining manholes, to then be directed to Hertfordshire Highways, which had told him to contact the “water board”, which then directed him back to Hertfordshire Highways.

“No one wants to accept responsibility and someone is going to get hurt before long,” Mr Norris told the WHT.

A spokeswoman for Hertfordshire Highways said: “We sent a crew out to check for missing covers and will make any sites where covers are missing safe.

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“If we find that the missing covers belong to a utility company, once we have made the area safe we will ask the utility company to make permanent repairs.

“The theft of drain and manhole covers is a serious matter that is both costly and, more importantly, puts pedestrians, cyclists and drivers at risk.

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“Residents are asked to report missing covers to Hertfordshire Highways and report any suspicious behaviour to the police.

“Highway faults can be reported to us on which has an online form and map, or you can call us on 0300 123 4047.”

Police said they were investigating the theft along with other similar crimes, which took place on March 14 in Lodge Drive, Hatfield, where eight drain covers were swiped and another incident also on March 14, in Pleasant Rise, Hatfield.

With 34 covers being stolen since January the cost of replacing the covers is in excess of �25,000.

A county council spokeswoman said: “At �300 per cover to replace, the 34 gully cover thefts in the Welwyn Hatfield area since the start of the year drain valuable resources which could otherwise have gone towards additional maintenance work.

“The �300 figure is the cost of a replacement cover, once you factor in the cost of temporarily making the area safe, road closures and labour the overall cost can potentially rise to around �750 per cover.”

She added: “We are working closely with the local police to tackle this issue and are also looking into using alternative materials for the covers. “

“In the meantime, please report missing covers to Hertfordshire Highways on 0300 123 4047 or so that we can make the area safe as quickly as possible.”

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