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Digger driver leaves trail of chaos

PUBLISHED: 09:50 25 March 2002 | UPDATED: 11:36 03 March 2010

A DIGGER driver has left his furious boss picking up the pieces after he caused nearly ten thousands of pounds worth of damage when he ran amok down a quiet Suffolk street.

A DIGGER driver has left his furious boss picking up the pieces after he caused nearly ten thousands of pounds worth of damage when he ran amok down a quiet Suffolk street.

The reckless driver has not been seen since he ploughed up more than 50 water meters along Great Harlings in Shotley Gate while completing work to improve crumbling pavements.

Residents of the former MOD properties claim that the construction worker also smashed down a garden wall and pulled up a fence.

They have now reached their wits' end as their road is dug up and their gardens turned into building sites for the second time in just a few weeks.

Mark Garnham, owner of fledgling construction company North Essex Surfacing, which has been contracted to carry out the pavement improvement work by Suffolk County Council admitted that the job had "turned into a bit of a nightmare".

"I will pay for the damage and everything will be back as it should be. The person who caused the damage is no longer working for me. I would very much like to speak to him he has caused me a lot of grief," he said.

Mr Garnham, who only set up the company 18 months ago, said that the damage to water meters under the ground was likely to set him back £7,000 plus a couple of thousand more for the cost of reinstating the pavement. Repair work, carried out by Anglian Water, started on Monday >.

"In my mind Anglian Water has gone totally over the top, some of the meters they have replaced didn't need replacing. It's left me in a bit of a mess.

"I'm down at the site myself now making sure things are done properly. I've done as much as I can do and I apologise for any inconvenience caused. I can't do much else."

He suggested children might be to blame for knocking over the wall and said he had no knowledge of the broken fence, both of which homeowners blamed on the digger driver.

Scores of Great Harlings housewives vented their angry, claiming that life on the quite street had become a nightmare since the workmen first moved in nearly three months ago.

Bollards have been left strewn across the road, access has become a nightmare and just as they thought the work was nearing a close with the tarmac on the new pavements complete Anglian Water came and dug it all back up again.

Fuming mum Lynne Link said: "The standard of work is diabolical. They nearly trashed my car, they didn't leave any access from the front of my house, you couldn't even push a pram down the path because the paving slabs were lifted up.

"We have been paying council tax here for seven years but we have got nothing in return."

Angry Emma Graham whose husband Stuart uses a wheelchair said that the continued building work had made access to her house almost impossible and demanded to know why nobody had thought to check the work before the top layer of smooth tarmac was laid.

"It could have saved us all having the road dug up twice," she said.

Shirley Rogers, who claims her garden wall was knocked down by the digger driver, said: "The workmen said it was an existing crack but I spoke to my neighbour and she said she watched him knock it down."

Rachel Smith, who claims the digger driver pulled up her fence, said: "The whole thing has been a nightmare."

Lesley Jackson said: "It's all been very hotchpotch. The drop kerbs were only put in a few weeks ago and now they are digging it all back up again."

Sue Sturgess said: "We have had JCBs and lorries here for months. They have a tea break every half hour and it lasts two hours. My garden wall has turned into a café."

Cathy Walker said: "We have Anglian Water working one side and them the other and there is no way to get out of your drive. Aren't they supposed to put boards down or something when they pull up the pavement."

Mr Garnham said that work could be completed as early as next Tuesday but definitely by the bank holiday weekend.

Ramani Vaheesan of Anglian water confirmed that the company was called out on Monday > to repair damage caused by the council contractors.

"We were not doing any work on the street and were called out because of the damage," she said.

Richard Davis, assistant highways area manager for Suffolk County Council, said: "Contractors have been working in Shotley on behalf of Suffolk County Council since January carrying out footpath maintenance in Great Harlings.

"We are sorry for any inconvenience for residents of Great Harlings caused as a result of damage to water meters covers along the street. However, it is still expected that the footpath maintenance will be completed on schedule next week.

"When the county council was made aware of this last week we immediately liased with Anglia Water about repairing the damage and this has now been completed - the contractor will be responsible for the cost of repairs."


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