“Dangerous” drain in Romford replaced after disabled man’s crutch fell through gaps

17:14 20 May 2014

The "dangerous" drain by Mr Sowden

The "dangerous" drain by Mr Sowden's crutch


A “dangerous” drain has been replaced after a cerebral palsy sufferer fell when his walking aid slipped between its gaps.

Stephen Sowden with crutches standing over the drain coverStephen Sowden with crutches standing over the drain cover

Stephen Sowden, 40, of Widdicombe Close, Harold Hill, has claimed it is now much “safer” since the council changed the cover, which had wide gaps, after he complained following his topple.

Mr Sowden must use either a wheelchair or crutches to get around because of the neurological condition that affects his muscle control.

He was walking down South Street, Romford, at the end of March when he hit the floor.

He said: “I was walking across to use the bank and the stick went down the drain.

“I think it was a dangerous drain if you were walking and caught off guard - I didn’t see the drain and my stick went right down it. It caught me by surprise.

“I fell on my front and two people helped pick me up.”

Mr Sowden said that he has rarely used his sticks since the tumble but must start using them again for health reasons.

“I lost my confidence when I fell over,” he said. “Being a disabled person, once I fall I go crash, bang, wallop.

“I have got to use the crutches to keep me moving. It relaxes the muscles and keeps them strong. If I don’t use them I could end up with blood clots the doctors have said.”

After the fall, he contacted Conservative councillor Andrew Curtin (Romford Town) who met him to visit the drain.

A council spokesman said: “We received a report in April about an unsafe drain cover on South Street. A disabled resident informed a councillor that their walking stick got caught in the drain cover which resulted in a fall.

“We immediately changed the cover to a smaller gully grate that is also level with the road to avoid any further accidents.”

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