Youths dicing with death by playing near Poringland substation

Youths living on an estate south of Norwich are dicing with death by playing close to an electrical substation and ignoring warning signs not to enter the danger area.

The alarm has been raised by father-of-three Steve Fowkes, who has called on the power company responsible for the substation, near Glenn Road, Poringland, to prevent youngsters from getting in by repairing or replacing the crumbling walls which house it.

Mr Fowkes, who lives at Jubilee Walk, near Glenn Road, said: 'My only concern is the kids going into it and playing, which could be fatal. My children know not to go in there, but there are others on the estate who don't really understand.'

The former builder said a fence has been installed around the damaged wall, but is worried that youngsters climbing an adjoining wall can still get into the substation, which has bricks, planks of wood and other rubbish strewn around.

The 45-year-old said the site, near Glenn Road, is a popular area for youngsters to play football and, with the long summer holidays under way, is worried that a youth trying to retrieve a ball which ends up in the substation might get electrocuted if nothing is done. He said: 'It's been left in a state of disrepair for quite some time now and kids are jumping in there to retrieve their football.

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'They've got nothing to do on the estate and so play football up near there and if the ball goes in they will just go in and get it because its so easy to get access to.

'They call it the danger box because it has got the danger signs on it. If something goes wrong then they could be hit by 11,000 plus volts. All it takes is for something to go wrong, and things do go wrong.'

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Mr Fowkes, who lives with his wife Mel, 31, children Ben, 12, Max, five, and Scarlet, who will be one on Friday, said the substation has been in a bad state for the three years they have lived in Poringland.

He has contacted UK Power Networks, formerly EDF Energy, and said they came out on Friday to put up a fence, but added it was not enough.

He said: 'The wall gave way on Thursday last week. If bricks are falling out then there's a risk of things falling onto kids as well. It just shouldn't be like that; at the end of the day no-one should have any access to that substation. There should be a lid on top of it to prevent that from happening.'

Roger Bibbings, occupational safety adviser at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA), said: 'The safety of the public, including children, at electricity distribution facilities should always be paramount.

'Anyone with a cause for concern should raise it with the company concerned, or the Health and Safety Executive, as soon as possible. Parents and teachers can play their part too by warning children of the dangers.'

A spokesman for UK Power Networks said: 'On Thursday, UK Power Networks received a report that the walls of a substation in the Glenn Road area of Poringland had been damaged.

'We arranged for our contractors to attend and they found debris and bricks inside the site, which is believed to have been targeted by vandals. Temporary fencing was erected to prevent any debris falling outwards and we are arranging for the walls to be rebuilt as quickly as possible. In addition, we have arranged for our contractor to check the site again.

'We would urge people to stay well clear of electricity substations. Although electricity is key to all our lives and safe when treated with respect, it is extremely dangerous if high voltage equipment is tampered with or vandalised. Substations have to be based in the community to provide power to homes and businesses, so we regularly inspect our equipment, erect safety signs and fences to keep people away and run safety education programmes in schools to educate youngsters about the dangers.'

If you spot vandalism or unauthorised entry to a substation, please call UK Power Networks on our Substationwatch hotline 0800 587 3243.

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