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Mystery spike is dangerous.

Last summer I reported a public hazard to Cardiff council. It was a water standpipe, topped by a brass tap with handle removed, fitted in a fire hydrant chamber.

This was near the entrance to Marks and Spencer in Queen Street, Cardiff. It was being used by contractors working for the council and was not fenced off.

In effect, it was a 1cm diameter spike, in a shallow pit and at busy times could be hidden by other people.

This was similar to a device much used by the armies of ancient Rome, much as land-mines are used today.

Many a pair of Celtic trousers came to grief on such spikes.

As did mine, in the previous May when I fell into the pit and the tap or spike penetrated the inside leg of my trousers and emerged through the right buttock, with sufficient force to part about a metre of best M & S stitching and give me some unexpected ventilation.

It also left me with ghastly images of what else could have been damaged.

By the time I returned with new trousers the pipe had gone. Cardiff council 'investigated', met me on site, took a photograph of the street where the pipe was no longer and told me they did not know whose pipe it was.

In August it reappeared and I reported it again. No useful action was taken by Cardiff council and the standpipe remained a hazard, so in late September I complained directly to Russell Goodway.

There was no response, so I complained again, had an acknowledgement, but no response.

In November I complained to the local government ombudsman who investigated, but told me that safety issues were not for them to comment on.

The standpipe remained in almost permanent use until December. I referred the issue to the Health and Safety Executive and have an acknowledgement, but no comment so far.

Much public funded time has been spent to achieve nothing, when all it required was for Cardiff council to tell its contractors that a hole in a public walkway must be fenced off and to ensure that they do so.

John Evans

Graigwen Parc, Pontypridd
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Copyright 2004 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jun 2, 2004
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