Boy, nine, plunges down unsafe manhole in Dunstable town centre

A boy with epilepsy was left hysterical and bruised after plunging down an unsafe manhole in Dunstable town centre.

Nine-year-old Lorcan Marks was out with mum Nicola when he suffered his ordeal outside Dunstable Leisure Centre on Monday afternoon last week.

He had barely walked a few steps from the disabled parking bay when he disappeared down the unsecured manhole, falling as far as his armpits.

As Lorcan clung to the ground around him, his shocked mum rushed to rescue him.

Mrs Marks said: “I pulled him out and took him into the leisure centre and they had a look at him. He was obviously quite hysterical.

“The leisure centre were really good and they were just as shocked as I was. Thankfully, it didn’t end up being too serious but there was lots of bruising.”

Following the accident, Mrs Marks got in touch with Central Beds Council after the leisure centre denied being responsible for the manhole. The council did step in to barricade it.

A council spokesman said: “The manhole outside Dunstable Leisure Centre was an Anglian Water-owned sewer cover, so it was neither Central Bedfordshire Council Highways’ nor the leisure centre’s responsibility.

“However, once our Highways team were made aware of the issue, they ensured the site had been made safe with barriers.

“The missing cover was reported to Anglian Waters on Friday and we received a phone call on Monday March 2 to confirm they have passed the matter onto their subcontractors to rectify.”

But Mrs Marks, who lives in High Street, Markyate, has been left uneasy over the incident.

She said: “The worst part of it is that my son has a history of epilepsy and asthma.

“Luckily he’s just covered in bruises but the fact that it was in a disabled parking area is very bad. It could have been a severely disabled person that this happened to.”

Nik Shelton, of Anglian Water, said: “We received a call from the local council onFebruary 27 about a damaged manhole cover in the grass verge next to Dunstable Leisure Centre. We inspected the cover the next day and found the frame had been damaged. It isn’t clear who is responsible for the cover, but as a matter of health and safety we instructed a contractor to replace it and the work was completed.

“We are responsible for 750,000 manhole covers in East Anglia and we aim to respond to any calls about damaged or dislodged covers as soon as possible.”