Emergency road works are in place on Northgate Street in Great Yarmouth after after a street cleaner had a lucky escape when a pavement collapsed beneath his sweeping machine and he was dropped into a gaping hole on Tuesday.

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Kelvin London was driving his sweeper along the footway in Great Yarmouth when a section of concrete gave way and he and the vehicle plunged into the chasm.

The collapse left a large hole in the pavement and this has been cordoned off while work is carried out to replace the damaged pipe.

Temporary traffic lights will be in place for the duration of the work, which could last for two to three weeks. The road will remain open and access will be maintained for pedestrians and local residents.

A spokesman for Anglian Water said: “We’re sorry for the inconvenience this sewer collapse has already caused people and for any disruption that results from the repair work.

“Although the collapse is under the pavement, the need to give our contractors enough room to work safely means that traffic lights will be needed.

“The length of time needed for the repair is largely due to the fact that there are many other utilities under the pavement at this point, including high voltage cables. That means we will have to dig down by hand rather than machine to avoid hitting them.

“However, we will be working seven days a week to make sure we finish the repair and get things back to normal as quickly as we can.”

The 58 year old Mr London was completing his early morning route down Northgate Street as normal on Tuesday when the pavement suddenly gave way.

He said: “There were a lot of leaves on the path so I went on the path - that’s normal for the sweeper - and suddenly I thought I’d been hit from behind, then when the thing came to I suddenly found I was looking up in the air.”

Shaken but unhurt he scrambled out of the sweeper and turned off the engine.

The machine was left stuck in the pavement at an angle after being caught by a slab, which Mr London said had prevented it from falling any deeper.

“Luckily when it went down a huge concrete slab went down with the machine and stopped me from really going right under. If that slab would have broken up I think the whole sweeper would have been underground,” he added.

Mr London, a dad of one, called for help and a lorry with a crane soon arrived to recover the sweeper from the hole. He stressed the machine was designed to clean pathways and alleys and he had swept the same section of pavement on Monday.

Highway workers later arrived at the scene outside the entrance to Northgate Hospital and began investigating what caused the collapse, with an initial report pointing to subsoil that had been washed away.

Mr London, who has been a street cleaner for eight years, said he could see further erosion under the slabs.

He added: “You could look up the path towards Great Yarmouth and could see underneath the concrete that wasn’t being supported by anything. (There wasn’t) anything there for about two foot.”

After being recovered the sweeper was inspected, found to have minimal damage and was back on the road by 11.15am - with Mr London at the wheel.

He wished to thank everyone who had left messages on Facebook wishing him a speedy recovery from his shaky ordeal.

Highway bosses from Norfolk County Council and staff from Anglia Water have cleared away some of the slabs to continue their investigations and pedestrians are being diverted into the road to walk round the collapse.

It is not yet known when the pavement will reopen.

Robert West, highway engineer, said: “Investigations are continuing to establish the cause of the subsoil wash out, which caused the collapse. Both the county council and Anglian Water are surveying their drainage and sewer lines to establish any possible breaks that could have caused the problem.

“It is too early to pinpoint the exact location and precise cause until these survey works are completed.

“Temporary traffic controls and the closure of the footway must be in place until the problem is fixed.”

10 comments

  • Wes, this is a vehicle that no doubt has spent countless years cleaning pavements around the town. The road subsided. It was clearly no fault of the driver, or the vehicle being on the pavement, and you know that. You often bash the council on here and that's fair enough, but you are out of order for criticising an individual who is just doing his job, then continuing to wind up his daughter who is trying to defend her dad. Give it a rest.

    Report this comment

    DT

    Wednesday, October 31, 2012

  • Poor Sabrina.She must be so stressed out defending her fathers actions.Pointless really.

    Report this comment

    wes1975

    Tuesday, October 30, 2012

  • All this hooha just because of one council worker's irresponsible driving....

    Report this comment

    wes1975

    Monday, October 29, 2012

  • So Anglian Water are keeping access open to residents are they? No they are not. 'No Parking' bollards were surrepticiously put along both sides of the road by AW's subcontractor May Gurney during the night, without any notification, meaning a dozen residents have to find somewhere else to park their cars, taxi's and delivery vans cannot get near to our houses either because the parking bays are now full of May Gurney vans and trucks which are simply there to keep the 'workers' warm as they have shown no signs of getting out of them to actually start doing any repairs on something that happened 5 days ago now. Typical ' Let's drag the job out as long as we can' attitude. And why is a pavement sweeper allowed to run up and down a residential street at 0530hrs every morning waking up residents?

    Report this comment

    Northgate

    Saturday, October 27, 2012

  • well said!

    Report this comment

    Sabrina London

    Friday, October 26, 2012

  • As soon as the hole appeared it was reported that the various authorities and utilities were looking into it . . . Surprise, surprise, it turns out following these investigations that the defective infrastructure belongs to the water company. It's a good job the whole pavement did not fall into the cavity as the poor driver of the cleaning machine would have ended up deep in the doo-doo with more than a little egg on his face. I hope he put in one of those accident compensation claims for the trauma, anxiety, distress, public humiliation, and hurt he has suffered. As for the water company, they will probably blame the traffic for fracturing their pipework. Obviously, it's nothing to do with years of under-investment and lack of surveillance and maintenance.

    Report this comment

    JCW

    Saturday, October 27, 2012

  • not reckless driving

    Report this comment

    Sabrina London

    Monday, October 29, 2012

  • According to Mr. London he managed to scramble out of his cab, so come on Archant how does that translate to you stating under the 1st photo that he was trapped inside. The poor blokes gettin enough stick as it is without your stupid reporters making him sound as though he can't make his mind up if he was trapped or scrambled out.

    Report this comment

    Cynic

    Friday, October 26, 2012

  • Northgate, why did you not ask the May Gurney workers what they were doing there just sitting in there vans? or is it much more easy to have a dig at them.

    Report this comment

    Rorping

    Sunday, October 28, 2012

  • not reckless driving

    Report this comment

    Sabrina London

    Monday, October 29, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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