More tosh from the Council, I'm sorry to say. A local councillor is reported as saying that village green status would delay emergency repair work on The Downs. This is STILL nonsense, merely a cover story that is getting flimsier by the day. The sharper-eyed amongst you will notice that the picture clearly shows a ladder running down to the bottom of the hole. Obviously this is not an accidental, natural hole - as Council spokesman Rob Davies says it's "part of the slope drainage system". Mr Davies also points out that "the responsibility to repair these lies with the City Council".
The Council neglected its responsibility to inspect and maintain this part of the drainage system. The manhole cover became overgrown, disintegrated and fell down the hole - the remains appear to be at the bottom of the ladder in the picture. The soil that once covered the manhole wore thin, and hey presto - suddenly there's a deep and dangerous hole in the ground.
This hazard is entirely due to the Council's neglect. Read on.
Foot-long crater opens up to reveal drop of 10 feet
A dog almost fell 10ft into water after a mysterious hole appeared on the Downs at Herne Bay. Authorities were alerted after the foot-long crater believed to be an old manhole was discovered less than a metre from a public footpath on Saturday morning.
Surrounded by loose earth, the pitch dark hole was mistaken for a rabbit hole by an eager Jack Russell. But only the quick-thinking actions of its owner, who grabbed the pooch as he went to dive into the hole, saved a potential tragedy. Bay councillor Vince McMahan, called by the owner and first on the scene with foreshore ramp attendant Doug Arponen, says a small child could have drowned:
“My two-year-old grandson Connor would have stood no chance if he'd fallen down there. It wouldn’t matter how quick the fire services arrived. I wouldn't be able to get down there myself and would be helpless. It`s really quite frightening. Small kids love to walk along the ledge of the footpath, and this hole was probably just a foot away. If someone had slipped and fell down the hole it would have been a disaster”
Mr Arponen and Cllr McMahan alerted the city council and waited by the hole for three hours until Serco arrived at 12.30pm. Workers covered the hole with a sheet of wood and returned later to fence the area off. Mr Arponen said:
“There's no way it could have been left as it was. You could tell it had probably been like it for some time as well, because the edge wasn't neat and the grass had grown. When I saw it I thought it was best to stick around. After all, the number one priority is public safety"
Cllr McMahan says the discovery of the hole adds weight to the argument against granting the Downs Village Green Status:
“If the status was awarded we would have to ask the Secretary of State to carry out emergency maintenance work like this. That takes time and money and could well have been too late in this instance.”
City council spokesman Rob Davies said:
“They are part of slope drainage system. We were alerted to this problem on Saturday and on-call staff attended to inspect the site. The hole was covered over and fencing was put up around it, as well as a second manhole cover further along the Downs, to make them safe. The responsibility to repair these lies with the city council, because they are part of the slope drainage system. An order for this work to be carried out has already been placed and we will inspect other covers on the East Cliff in case of further problems."
HB Gazette 3rd Jun 2010
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