Sudbury: Call to turn street lights back on after man trips on drain cover and fractures skull and eye socket

Thomas Ryan tripped over a drain that is sticking up in Raleigh Road, Sudbury, as he couldn't see it

Thomas Ryan tripped over a drain that is sticking up in Raleigh Road, Sudbury, as he couldn't see it due to the streetlights being turned off at midnight. - Credit: Archant

Calls have been made for street lights to be switched back on at night in parts of Sudbury after a man blamed the lack of lighting for a fall which left him unconscious for more than an hour.

Thomas Ryan, 58, of Hardy Court, suffered a fractured skull and shattered eye socket after tripping over a raised drain cover when returning from babysitting duties in nearby Raleigh Road at about 12.15am on Saturday.

His plea for lights to be switched on again between midnight and 5am has been backed by town councillor Sue Ayres, who warned the county council that uneven pavements, combined with the overnight blackout, had turned the Springlands estate into an “accident waiting to happen.”

Lights on the estate have been turned off at midnight since the county council introduced the idea as an energy saving measure.

Mr Ryan, who was lying in the rain for about 90 minutes after the incident, said: “I was so lucky that someone found me and called the ambulance.

“When my daughter came to see me, she couldn’t believe the state I was in – my skull is cracked and the doctors are worried about splinters of bone around my eye sockets.”

There is a street light next to the drain – which is raised above the ground by about four inches at one end – and Mr Ryan believes he would not have tripped had the light been on.

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He added: “There are a lot of elderly people living up here and I would hate for this to happen to anyone else. If someone older had tripped over that drain, it could have killed them.”

In December, Mrs Ayres toured the estate with police officers at 1am and compiled a report detailing the potential hazards.

She said: “There are lots of people in that area who work night shifts and walk home in the early hours of the morning when it’s pitch black. With the current state of the footpaths and the lack of lighting, many areas are hazardous.

“I wrote to the county council and warned them but the police said there had been no extra reported crime since the lights were switched off so they could see no reason to turn them back on.

“But when I surveyed residents on the estate, there wasn’t one person who was happy with the lights being switched off at midnight.”

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said: “We’re currently investigating whether the specific area in question is maintained by us as the highway authority.

“We take seriously any threats to the safety of the public and street lights can be kept on if we receive a request from the police to do so.

“We have also kept on lights to support local overnight events; ensuring members of the public can travel home safely.”

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