Express & Star

Recovery mission begins to remove car stuck in Black Country canal lock

A recovery mission has begun on a major canal network after a car was left dumped in a lock.

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The car was left lying on its side, with debris around it and all the windows smashed

The Land Rover Discovery was found on its side with broken windows and debris on the side at the bottom of Factory Lock number three, near to Furnace Parade in Tipton on Monday morning.

Tyre tracks and broken glass could be seen at the side of the lock and there was a small amount of fuel leaking out of the back of the car, but contained within the lock.

It meant that anyone attempting to travel towards Wolverhampton or Birmingham on the Main Line Canal was unable to do so, with many boats having to reverse or find a way to turn around.

The area around the lock was taped off by Fire and Rescue as members of Canal and River Trust surveyed the area with contractors to figure out the best way of removing the car from the lock.

Area operations manager for Wolverhampton and Walsall Aaron Atwal said the impact was huge on the network, with dozens of boats being affected by the closure, and expressed his own disgust at seeing the car in the lock.

The car was left blocking the lock on the Main Line canal, a major line between Wolverhampton and Birmingham

He said: "We've had to close the canal and this is going to impact up to 20 or 30 boats today and we'll be lucky if we can remove it by tomorrow as if that takes longer, it could affect more than 60 boats.

"We've had three colleagues down here, including a senior engineer, and it's already taken up four or five hours this morning with calls between our duty supervisor, the police and local teams and is impacting my own team as we've got another 90 miles of canal on the network to look after.

"It's going to affect the canal and its users and I feel absolutely disgusted by it as we've tried to enhance the waterway and the navigation of the network for our users and then we come across something like this, which is just idiotic behaviour.

"It doesn't just affect our users as it also impacts wildlife and while we're lucky that there's not much diesel coming out of the car, it's going to have an impact on the wildlife and biodiversity of the area."

The Canal and River Trust put out a statement saying that it was working on plans to crane the car out of the canal, with a crane lifting it out either from the nearby industrial estate or by pulling it out of the lock and near the edge of the canal.

The canal area runs adjacent to Furnace Parade, with woodland and a grass verge, and there were visible tyre tracks on the road leading up to the canal path, along with some damage to the wooden posts.

A local woman, who didn't want to be named, said she had seen the car going over the area on her CCTV camera and another car driving up the road with full beam lights on.

She said: "I saw the car go over the posts around 5.25am, as you can see they are damaged, and the next minute, I heard a loud bang, which I assume is from the car going into the canal, then saw another car come up the street just after with full beams on and over the bridge.

"It's not the first time I've seen something like that happen around here as I think this is an area of high crime, as my car windows have been smashed, and there's a lot of anti-social behaviour around here, so I'm not even surprised about this."

A spokesman for West Midlands Police said: "We were called to Factory Road in Tipton shortly before 6am this morning following reports a vehicle had driven into a canal.

"Our colleagues from the fire service also attended and following checks of the vehicle and the lock no-one was found.

"The vehicle was believed to be stolen from the Staffs area."