Scrap metal thieves risking public safety

A gully grid
A gully grid

Scavengers stealing gully grids are putting people’s lives in danger, leaving huge gaping holes on the roadside.

Wigan Council is urging pedestrians and drivers to be wary following a spate of grid thefts which is plaguing the borough.

It is thought that the offenders are targeting the Whelley area in particular as this is where the majority of the covers have been snatched.

Council officials are warning people to keep an eye out for this behaviour which can have “very dangerous” consequences.

Mark Tilley, assistant director for infrastructure at the council, said: “It can be very easy to not see when a gully has been damaged or removed and for it to cause an accident.

“It can be particularly dangerous if children are playing so we’re asking people to be vigilant and if they see anything to report it to us. We would encourage parents to remind children of the danger of playing in or with the lids of gullies to prevent accidents or them coming into contact with the sewer.”

A gully is the technical term for a drain at the edge of a carriageway kerb that drains water from the road and is typically covered by a metal grid.

The hole left once the grate has been taken can be as wide as a foot and have can a vertical drop of several feet.

It is widely believed that criminals take the grids to cash in on the scrap metal.

A decade ago, Wigan Council was forced to change the material used for its gully covers to make the material less appealing for thieves following another outbreak of thefts.

Uncovered gullies could leave to pedestrians getting trapped and car wheels becoming damaged by getting stuck in the space between the missing covers.

If hit at a high speed, the gaps can also cause tyres to burst.

The council is urging anyone who notices a stolen grid cover to report it to central watch on 01942 404040.

Staff have asked that any general grid faults are reported via the Report It app or online at www.wigan.gov.uk