Fed up Lancashire butcher pranks United Utilities after they left a hole outside his shop
A Lancashire butcher pulled off a hilarious set of pranks on roadworks outside his business after a water company failed to fill a lane-blocking hole for a week.
Stephen Hallworth, 54, said locals had felt “depressed” when absent workers left temporary traffic lights around the one-metre-deep pit on a main road.
So the dad-of-two decided to “lighten the mood” by creating scenes with rubber ducks, a skeleton and prop cows wearing hi-vis jackets each day they didn’t turn up.
Stephen said residents had found the high jinks “absolutely hilarious”, even though council bosses later forced him to remove the objects on “health and safety” grounds.
But he said his stunt did eventually pay off after the workers finally returned with their "tail between their legs" on Friday, October 14 to fill in the hole.
Stephen said: “Everyone coming into the shop was depressed.
“The traffic lights were putting everyone down in the dumps, so we were trying to lighten the mood, and it went down very, very well.
“The animals did the job, and they filled it in over about an hour after we took the animals out.
“Nobody worked on it until we put the animals in. They came back with their tail between their legs.”
Stephen, who owns S R Hallworth butchers in Whalley, Lancs., said the hole on Accrington Road, just outside his shop, had appeared on October 9.
He said: “They put up the traffic light and just left them here, basically.
“On Monday, there was nobody working there all day, the same on Tuesday, and on Wednesday there was still nobody, so we decided to have a little bit of fun.
“We have a display in the shop for Halloween, and we put the skeleton in there on Wednesday.
“On Thursday, we got some hi-vis jackets and workers' helmets for the cows, and we decided to put the ducks in the hole too, to cheer everyone up.
He added: “Everyone thought it was absolutely hilarious.
“We even put a sign in the hole saying, ‘Honk if you are fed up with the traffic lights’.
"Everyone gets fed up with traffic lights, but we wanted to put a smile on peoples’ faces.”
Stephen said bosses from Lancashire County Council came to inspect the roadworks on Friday, and then ordered him to remove his props on health and safety grounds.
But he said water company workers also returned the same day and then filled in the hole, letting traffic pass smoothly once again.