Dangerous Sink Hole Appears on Driveway in The Close

A dangerous sink hole opened up on a private driveway in The Close on Sunday morning when a van drove onto the driveway and the front wheel got stuck.

Valerie Howes’ who lives at the property was waiting for her friend who was coming to visit her to take her out of coffee when her friend’s Guide Dog for the Blind van with dogs in the back got stuck.

Valerie has lived in the Soha Property for 26 years and first noticed a crack down the side of her house adjacent to the driveway 18 months ago.  She reported it to Soha Housing then and they came out to survey the crack and left it fenced around with orange netting and a board on top.  At the beginning of this year they finally returned and started to fill the crack in placing scalpings over the top and then left saying they were might return to concrete it over.

Sarah Sherred, Valerie’s daughter said, “After they filled it in, it started to sink and it became a trip hazard.  Soha returned and put a board on top and said that it was perfectly safe to walk.  Mum didn’t want to make a fuss but I was worried that she would slip over particularly when it was icy and it was still a trip hazard.  When Mum’s friend Sue arrived on Sunday, her wheel got stuck and so she called the RAC which took them over an hour to get the van out.  Sue called David Eggleton to see if he could help.”

David said, “I came and fenced off the area with cones and put a board down for Valerie and Sue.  When you looked down the hole you could see that it was over 20 foot deep – really dangerous.”

Sarah added, “I spoke to Soha on Sunday and they came out on Monday and have put metal railings round it and a board over the hole.  I haven’t heard from them since.  I called the gas board this morning and they came out within an hour but they have confirmed the pipes you can see are not gas.  I was due to come to see Mum for the Easter holidays but I came up earlier from Somerset after she rang me to tell me what had happened.  She’s 85 and been poorly for the last couple of years and I’m really worried about her falling over or her cat falling down the hole.”

Lee Hayward, Director of Property Services at Soha Housing, said: “The ground conditions on the driveway of one of our homes in The Close have been monitored for some months now with the agreement and assistance of the householder. During this time we have been working closely with a specialist geo-physics investigation service who recommended the hole be monitored. At the weekend, a collapse in the driveway was called into our Out of Hours service. Our contractor attended this morning (Monday) to cover the hole with large metal plate and cordon off access to the driveway as a precautionary measure.

We do not yet know the extent or timescales of the remediation action we will need to take in The Close. Our first action has to be to understand the latest development and we are working quickly with specialist expertise to do that.”

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