Herts County Council hopes remaining Sinkhole evacuees will be back home by Christmas

PUBLISHED: 09:28 07 October 2016 | UPDATED: 09:28 07 October 2016

County Councilor Richard Thake speaks to national media, on October 1, 2015, about the sinkhole in St Albans

County Councilor Richard Thake speaks to national media, on October 1, 2015, about the sinkhole in St Albans

Archant

The sudden appearance of St Albans' sinkhole "must have been a most awful experience for residents, in the dead of night", a county councillor has admitted on the first anniversary of the massive cavity.

Thames Water carry out work to reinstate the services to Fontmell Close.Thames Water carry out work to reinstate the services to Fontmell Close.

Last Saturday, October 1, marked a year since the appearance of a 12-metre-wide sinkhole after part of the carriageway collapsed into a historic, backfilled clay pit, in Fontmell Close.

In the very early hours of that day, the seven-metre-deep hole cut off gas, power, electricity and water supplies, while also preventing access to 52 properties.

Four households are still evacuated, as utilities and access, including to Bridle Close, are currently being permanently restored.

Cllr Richard Thake, Herts county council’s portfolio holder for community safety, said: “My involvement 12 months ago was from the community safety point of view, because I head up fire and rescue services.

“It must have been the most awful experience for residents.”

He recalled being surprised at the size of the collapse: “I have seen them before, but nothing of that proportion. The emergency services had evacuated people when I arrived.

“It’s a miracle that none of the dwellings disappeared – I remember a yellow car parked on the edge.”

Cllr Thake also recalled the huge media interest in the sinkhole, and being busy with interviews at the scene.

He added: “I was shocked by the size of it, and was grateful we were able to get to people without anyone getting injured – it was a traumatic experience for residents.”

Cllr Thake said it had been of “paramount importance” for emergency services to safely evacuate people, even though it was “pitch black” at the time.

The council hopes to have the remaining residents safely back in their homes by Christmas and, if all goes to plan, to have the road reopened by then.

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