27 May 2011

Northamptonshire County Council is asking people to keep an eye out for thieves who are stealing drainage covers from highways in the county.

So far 118 covers have been stolen, which at a minimum replacement cost of £245 each including labour costs to make safe, equates to a cost of about £29,000 to the taxpayer.

Not only are the thefts costly but the removal of drainage covers leaves holes in the road, which is a safety hazard to motorists and particularly cyclists.

People who witness a cover being taken and feel that it is being done illegally can contact Street Doctor immediately on 0845 601 1113. This will allow the council to ensure the carriageway is made safe again as quickly as possible.

As soon as a report of a missing cover is received the site will be visited and made safe. If the cover cannot be immediately replaced, the area will be marked with cones.

David Farquhar, head of transport and highways at Northamptonshire County Council said: “Thefts like this cause us many problems from a safety aspect along with a negative effect on our highways budget.

“The people who are stealing the covers have no regard for safety or cost and we urge the public to report any incident that they believe to be suspicious.

“I strongly urge anyone with information to contact the police or Street Doctor as we are very concerned about the effect of these thefts on public safety.”

Many of the gullies in the county have been on the network for many years and the council is looking at alternative products which cannot be stolen such as hinged covers.

The police have been informed and the council is helping them with their enquiries.

Metal merchants are also being asked to be more vigilant and, if approached to buy gully covers, ask where they have come from, take details and report to the police.