Well, well, well

(104 Posts)
redbunnyfruitcake Fri 28-Jun-13 14:25:01

I've just bought a house with shared access. This is not a problem as such as the neighbour and I have equal access through each others gardens and providing the gate is closed it shouldn't affect my children's safety.

However, our utility room opens out into their garden and we will obviously use this door most of the time for convenience when bringing a pram through. The big problem is that to the side of their house they have a well. It is surrounded by a low wall but I don't yet know if it is covered. For my own sanity I will need to ask them to cover it but I do not know if I have any rights to. And knowing children as I do there will be an inbuilt fascination regarding the well so just telling them not to go near it will not be enough.

This has already given me a few sleepless nights and I have already unwittingly upset the neighbour by accidently blocking her right of way (long story) so I do not want to get into any further strife but for the sake of my children I need to address this well situation. I am a little concerned that the neighbour is a bit difficult and may refuse to cover the well hence my worry.

How do I find out about my rights regarding the well? And AIBU to ask them to cover the well? Any pointers would be helpful.

CocktailQueen Fri 28-Jun-13 14:26:13

Didn't you know or ask about the well before you bought the house?

cantspel Fri 28-Jun-13 14:28:45

You can ask but if they say no you wont be able to do a lot about it.

Just ask if it is covered and if they say no ask if they would mind if you paid to have a cover made for it.

eurozammo Fri 28-Jun-13 14:29:29

You can ask and pay for any cover, but I very much doubt you have any rights in that regard.

redbunnyfruitcake Fri 28-Jun-13 14:29:54

We had no idea bout the well until after we bought the house. The couple put theirs on the market shortly after we bought ours and we saw it on the particulars. They have so ce decided not to sell and are staying. We haven't moved in yet so we are still unsure of how things will work out.

LineRunner Fri 28-Jun-13 14:30:44

Can I ask, what did you think would happen with the well when you viewed the property? Did you not have some sort of cunning plan in mind?

I'd ask them if they would allow me to cover it and fence it off.

I'm assuming they don't need it for anything? smile

CloudsAndTrees Fri 28-Jun-13 14:31:45

I doubt you have any rights if its private property.

You should offer to organise and pay for the well to be covered, because you are the one who wants it done after buying the house knowing that it was there, and that you have young children.

LineRunner Fri 28-Jun-13 14:31:57

X-post, OP.

mamaslatts Fri 28-Jun-13 14:32:25

I think there is a law which states you have to make your property safe even for those not invited onto it?? (sorry, v vague) would obviously use the law as a last resort but sure that would be covered?

redbunnyfruitcake Fri 28-Jun-13 14:33:00

The well is not obvious from just looking around so we didn't know it was even there. I think it would have made me think twice to be honest.

SoupDragon Fri 28-Jun-13 14:34:45

Um... can't you just keep the door locked and put a high bolt on the gate? You could somehow put a combination lock on the gate so that your neighbours have access.

DamnBamboo Fri 28-Jun-13 14:40:22

If you want her to put a cover on it, you will need to pay.

Why move into a house with a well if you have young kids?

DamnBamboo Fri 28-Jun-13 14:42:20

How can you not see a well if you inspect a property thoroughly?

HoHoHoNoYouDont Fri 28-Jun-13 14:45:52

If it was my well I wouldn't hesitate in getting it covered if I knew children would be near it. I hope your neighbour turns out to be as reasonable.

redbunnyfruitcake Fri 28-Jun-13 14:47:48

Damn bamboo please read the thread. The well is not obvious and it is in their part of the garden which i was not shown as i was not buying their house. I did not know it was there.

Moominsarehippos Fri 28-Jun-13 14:48:14

Is it a real well or an ornamental one?

redbunnyfruitcake Fri 28-Jun-13 14:51:02

Ho ho ho thank you for your reply. It seems that asking a question unleashes a need in people to insinuate that I'm a complete idiot.

redbunnyfruitcake Fri 28-Jun-13 14:52:42

Moomin, it's real unfortunately.

CaptainSweatPants Fri 28-Jun-13 14:54:39

Shared access with young children sounds a nightmar
What if teenagers live there in the future who don't shut the gate ?

DamnBamboo Fri 28-Jun-13 14:54:46

I did read the thread and I'm not trying to be rude or insinuate you're an idiot. You said you have access through each others gardens, and that the well is at the side of the house... unless it's at the other side of the house (where you're kids shouldn't ever be anyway) , I would have thought it would have been obvious, but I can't picture what you're saying.

Could be ornamemtal? There's one in a front garden on my road, filled with soil and plants.

iseenodust Fri 28-Jun-13 14:56:10

Maybe not ask them to cover it but put a metal grid, strong enough to weight bear, in just below top? Boxed in may look unsightly to them but a safety grid out of sight unless next to it may be accpetable compromise?

maddening Fri 28-Jun-13 14:57:34

Move the utility door to open to your garden? Would you still need to cross their land? Would the dc ever be unattended in their garden?

Owllady Fri 28-Jun-13 14:59:03

I agree with cloudsandtrees, offer to pay for it to be covered - that's all you can do really

ExcuseTypos Fri 28-Jun-13 15:00:13

I would have a chat with them and tell them how worried you are. They may not have even thought about the saftey aspect, when you point it out they could say they will cover it. I'd offer to pay for the cover.

If they aren't reasonable then I would go to the CAB. They are very good at dealing with this kind of thing. They'll beable to tell you what you'd be allowed to do re somehow blocking off their garden from yours.

DamnBamboo Fri 28-Jun-13 15:01:55

We have a huge pond with three little kids - if you buy wire fencing, or chicken wire and secure it over the top and sides, it will be secure. Hopefully they will agree to this, unfortunately for you, they don't have to.
Good luck.

TSSDNCOP Fri 28-Jun-13 15:07:40

How big is the hole OP diameter-wiser.

We had a cover made for our fish pond by some people that make wrought iron gates. It's well sturdy enough to bear human weight, but lattice so it's ornamental.

To cover a 6' x 4' pond was £300 IIRC.

Just thinking if you've got to have the conversation, it might be worth going with a few proposed solutions.

redbunnyfruitcake Fri 28-Jun-13 15:08:02

It's very hard to explain the set up of the house so I can see why it might be confusing. The utility room is a later addition built on the the side of a cottage so no option to move it. It opens out into the neighbours garden which we can use to access the door and also access our gated garden. The well is to the side of their house and not obvious but as it is their garden it is completely open.

Of course my children will be told not to be in my neighbours garden for anything other than access but little one is only 4 and I can't expect her not to be curious. Keeping the door closed and locked is not practical as it is effectively our back door.

I'm really not looking to be difficult with this question and I can see that without seeing the property layout it seems odd. I just wanted to know if there were any rules regarding these things and what the most reasonable course of action would be.

redbunnyfruitcake Fri 28-Jun-13 15:10:18

Thank you for some great answers. Was getting a bit stressed there as am 32 weeks pregnant, just about to move house and am terrified by the well. Will get a grip soon, promise.

Pendeen Fri 28-Jun-13 15:20:10

Occupiers Liability Act?

HeySoulSister Fri 28-Jun-13 17:15:51

Even if there is a cover, it could break/be removed etc, so makes it unreliable

ExcuseTypos Fri 28-Jun-13 17:24:03

Red bunny, I would be worried in your situation too.

Could you ask the people who are in your house at the moment if they know anything about the well? You never know it may well have a cover on it already.

Another idea I've just thought of, is there anyway you could put another 'back door' in another room which backs on to your garden only?

WileyRoadRunner Fri 28-Jun-13 17:25:01

I'm sorry but i cannot see why this is a problem.

You only need to cross their garden for access, your children should not be running around in their garden. 4 is old enough to be told to walk directly to your door and nowhere else. You will be there supervising them.
Surely it's no more dangerous than taking them for a walk around a lake to the feed the ducks?

The compromise is if you are are uneasy about it, offer to pay for a cover.

cantspel Fri 28-Jun-13 17:26:26

Have you not got a front door you can use?

WeleaseWodger Fri 28-Jun-13 17:36:51

If you're youngest is 4 then you must mean the pram is for your soon to be born? Have kids use front door, you go round with pram to utility room.
Simple, no?

UtterflyButterfly Fri 28-Jun-13 17:37:19

Is there any way you can fence your own bit of the garden off so the children can't access the well?

quoteunquote Fri 28-Jun-13 17:49:20

I recommend you go and see a local blacksmith, have a look through their portfolio,

we get pond and water ornate domed hinged cages made to measure, very beautiful, and child proof, as once bolted on and padlocked you can still see and access the water, children can climb all over them but not fall in,

get an estimate, and or quote, then ask the neighbour if you can fund a cover, suggest they work out a suitable design with blacksmith,

Which area are you in if you are in devon I can point you in the right direction.

quoteunquote Fri 28-Jun-13 17:53:57
quoteunquote Fri 28-Jun-13 17:55:19

Spencer will make you anything, reasonably priced.

redbunnyfruitcake Fri 28-Jun-13 21:09:40

Quote I love those covers. Makes me wish the well was mine which would actually make it a lot easier all round. I will be in N. Somerset so not sure how easy it would be to get the work done. However we do have blacksmiths in the local area so it is definitely something to consider so thank you. And I am willing to pay for my child's safety so that's not a problem.

As for not understanding the problem my argument is that despite the best direction in the world small children love to investigate and although I would like eyes in the back of my head there will be times when I will be preoccupied by lack of sleep, a newborn and whatever other household demands are placed on me. On that basis I want to do everything I possibly can to stop my 4 year old falling down a well and drowning. Not an unreasonable hope I think that anyone could agree with.

Pendeen thanks for pointing me to The Occupiers Liability act as it is useful to know in case my neighbour is unwilling to let me cover the well even if I am happy to pay for it.

SaucyJack Fri 28-Jun-13 22:15:04

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

HeySoulSister Fri 28-Jun-13 22:17:07

Guess they can't be made to cover it

Methe Fri 28-Jun-13 22:19:31

You cannot reasonably expect them to change anything about their property to make your lives more 'convenient'.

You can offer to pay for a cover and to then pay for it to be installed.

If you were my neighbour though I wouldn't accept.

BriansBrain Fri 28-Jun-13 22:22:05

It may not be a problem.

Tell your neighbour you would like t pay to have their well covered.

They may well just say yes.

weisswusrt Fri 28-Jun-13 22:32:33

Would a 'well monster' help? Or would that make it even more fascinating?

Dorange Fri 28-Jun-13 22:33:53

Wow saucyjack are you ok?

Lovelygoldboots Fri 28-Jun-13 22:38:37

I thought saucyjacks post was a bit ridiculous. OP, could you move the entrance to the utility room so access is on your property? Or some kind of fence or gate between two properties?

propertyNIGHTmareBEFOREXMAS Fri 28-Jun-13 22:40:03

Oh Lord, this sounds like a headache property. Was there really nothing else you could have bought? Shared gardens and door opening into neighbours' property sounds like so something to be avoided at all costs. I would not have bought this joint in a month of Sundays.
All you can do is be polite, ask and offer to pay for a cover. Good luck

ClartyCarol Fri 28-Jun-13 22:44:41

Jesus wept. Was there any need for that SaucyJack?

And Methe - why would you refuse to allow a cover to be put on a well if you weren't even having to pay for it? I would feel devastated if anything happened to my neighbour's child, especially I'd put the kibosh on said neighbour taking steps against this awful thing happening in the first place.

Floggingmolly Fri 28-Jun-13 22:51:35

Why does your utility room open into their garden?

quoteunquote Fri 28-Jun-13 23:09:17

I can't find an image of domed ones, but if you look at what blacksmith now do, almost anything is possible,

I suggest having a chat with your neighbours about your fears armed with some images of solutions that you make clear you are prepared to fund, and ask them to think about it.

there will be plenty of blacksmiths who do this sort of work near you,

SaucyJack biscuit

ICantRememberWhatSheSaid Sat 29-Jun-13 00:23:38

I think your best bet would be to work out how you can ensure your DC can't access the nieghbours garden unsupervised. Perhaps a self-closer on the utility door and a buzzer or alarm that operates when the door is opened.

There could be any manner of hazards in someone else's garden - dogs, poisonous plants, chemicals, hot coals from BBQ's. An uncovered well is an obvious hazard but its never going to be a good idea for your DC to be able to get into someone else's property.

I can't find any legislation but I would guess (yes it's a GUESS! ie I DON'T actually KNOW) that there is legislation to cover open wells even those on private land.????

quoteunquote Sat 29-Jun-13 00:56:38

It never a good idea to totally cover a well,

It is the old type of septic tank systems that people fall in a lot, especially the ones at the bottom of gardens that are covered with a concrete slab and have a soak away tank,

Often adults, I know quite a few people who have fallen into their own tanks, it best to have a permeant ladder, or do what the environment agency want and replace with a klargester.

drowning in your own shit, not fun.

other people property is, is exactly that,

I have a stream at the bottom of my garden, low in summer big in winter, neighbour below is next to a fast river, lots of my friends live next to beaches, but wells are hard to get out of,

most wells if you look closely below the top few feet, are an oval shape, because they had to be dug, if you think of the smallest space a man and a shovel needs to dig, the white heart in Modbury recently found a round one ,middle of the pub, now with a glass top, which means it was dug by a child/children with buckets.

wells are one of the hardest, along with septic tanks to get out of.

redbunnyfruitcake Sat 29-Jun-13 06:57:03

Oh dear Saucy Jack you really are a piece of work. If all you can do is insult people then I suggest you find someone in real life as doing it over the Internet is just a bit sad. I am glad you are such a perfect parent and thank you for reminding me of a fat, lazy, crap parent I am. As for my rights, your reaction to my question is exactly the reason I asked it. If my neighbour turns out to be anything like you then I wil need to know my legal position because despite my attempts to be a civil, polite person in life it seems that other people find that more of a struggle.

And as for my rights the Occupiers Liability Law seems to state that my neighbour does have a responsibility to keep the property safe for visitors which I guess would include my child!

Yes I could have chosen a better house but I am not worried by shared access etc I am worried about the well which I knew nothing about. The house is a bit of a nightmare but we bought it because we liked it, could afford it and once again DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT THE BLOODY WELL!!!!!

THANK YOU for all the sane people who have come on and offered constructive, polite advice. You give me faith in humanity.

formicadinosaur Sat 29-Jun-13 07:03:21

I don't think you have rights to do that. Maybe you could offer to put one on for her. It's your kids that are the issue.

Coconutty Sat 29-Jun-13 07:16:24

Ignore the loons OP.

Just a thought,if you haven't moved in yet, can you back out of the sale? I wouldn't want a house like this with young children.

ExcuseTypos Sat 29-Jun-13 07:17:04

I wish people would actually READ the thread or failing that the OPs posts.

Ignore the idiots OP.

colleysmill Sat 29-Jun-13 07:25:37

We dont have a well but we do have a stream that runs through on the border of our garden (about 25-30m). We moved here pre-dc and I can remember having similar worries when I was pregnant.

I appreciate wells are much deeper than our stream although it does rise and fall a fair bit (less so since the parish council changed the bridge further down stream) but it hasn't yet been an issue with ds (nearly 4) We have to have access down to it to maintain our wall and keep it clear from debris and there is a lower beach like area where you can get in it. Ds likes to fish from there but actually so far he isn't that interested in it. He is not allowed anywhere near it without an adult and so far he hasn't got down there unaccompanied and that bit is gated off.

I don't let him or another children play out unsupervised though (other children are more interested - ds is more interested in chasing ducks than feeding them) and we always keep the back door locked (keys removed as he can open doors)

LizTerrine Sat 29-Jun-13 07:45:45

I've reported SaucyJack. Unnecessarily rude.

BabyMakesMyEyesGoSleepy Sat 29-Jun-13 07:52:21

I would back out of the house. If you fall out with your neighbours it could escalate into a miserable situation. And of course your children will need to be supervised in the garden,I'm sure your neighbours won't want them trespassing. This house starting to sound like more hassle than its worth.

birdmomma Sat 29-Jun-13 07:54:55

A few years ago, a neighbour's child wandered into our garden (unsupervised and uninvited) and had an accident. She was quite badly injured. It was completely our liability, and our insurance had to pay considerable compensation, and I will probably never completely get over it. The law states that you have to make your property safe for both invited and uninvited guests, including trespassers. Well loved and well supervised children often die in neighbour's ponds and it actually is the liability of the person who owns the pond. They would be fools not to get it covered. You can take all the precautions you like, but children like to explore and take risks.

SoupDragon Sat 29-Jun-13 07:56:11

Whilst phrased badly and in an excessively rude manner, SaucyJack has a point. The simple and effective suggestion of keeping the door locked was rejected as it would be "impractical".

I want to do everything I possibly can to stop my 4 year old falling down a well and drowning

Except the simple and immediate method of keeping the door locked and putting a combination lock on the gate.

SmellsLikeWeenSpirits Sat 29-Jun-13 07:57:23

I bet it's already covered or filled in. We've lived in a couple of places with old wells. They've always been capped. It's likely this one will be too, for all sorts of reasons most people wouldn't want a 30ft deep hole exposed in their gardens

cruxible Sat 29-Jun-13 08:06:28

My friends acquired an open water butt in their garden. They often have children of all ages round but didn't consider if one peered in and slipped it woulld drown so quickly. It left me so anxious.

In the end i mentioned how dangerous and they covered it.

ExcuseTypos Sat 29-Jun-13 08:09:18

Soup keeping the back door locked is not a permanent solution.

As bird says accidents do happen.
You unfortunaltey read of children drowning in gardens every single summer. The only safe water for children is inaccessible water.

EATmum Sat 29-Jun-13 08:19:12

OP I'd find it hard to believe that any reasonable person, being asked about a potential risk in their garden, wouldn't want to do everything they could to minimise it. As birdmamma said, you are liable for your own property, and case law specifically recognises that children are curious and ingenious, so there's a higher burden where children may have access (Admittedly I'm dredging this up from law study some years back and don't remember the name of the case, but it involved a lion's enclosure at a circus.)
I really hope you get a positive response from your new neighbours - especially if you're willing to contribute to the cost. What issue could there be to not welcome it?

lachrymavitis Sat 29-Jun-13 08:23:58

You can keep the door locked when you are inside your property which means your child cannot get out without supervision. My children went through a phase of opening the front door by themselves and I had to then keep it locked whenever we were indoors.

I understand your anxiety but I do also think it is your responsibility to supervise your children and to safe-proof your property as much as possible. It does seem like the only option you are considering involves the other property.

birdmomma Sat 29-Jun-13 08:35:37

Children keep having accidents well past the age that they can open locked doors. When her child is 7 or 8, and maybe has some friends round for a play date - that's when it will seem like a really good time to stand on the well and chuck things down it.

birdmomma Sat 29-Jun-13 08:36:59

I used to be quite flippant about child safety (I now realise), but having a child nearly die in front of you really does sharpen up your health and safety responses.

Dorange Sat 29-Jun-13 08:39:05

My dd nearly drowned at her swimming lessons and the teacher didn't notice it, luckily dh was there to save her. It is a renowned swimming school. OP, you like the house and is the one you can afford, don't get discouraged. Visit your neighbour, go without children if you can, be lovely, tale them homemade biscuits, and have a nice chat. Even if they cover the well you are going to have to be very strict and consistent with your DC regarding them not trespassing their property however lovely your neighbours turn out to be. And obviously taking safe measures at your on door. Children can respect boundaries. Good luck and keep us posted.

BriefcaseOfFacts Sat 29-Jun-13 08:39:54

I can't see why any reasonable person would say no to your request! If you offer to pay, make it a grill that you can't see unless peering into the well, they'd be mad to say no. Personally if I had the choice of having the option of having a child potentially drown on my property or the offer a free solution to the problem I know what I would choose!

Have faith OP, having access blocked is very irritating, it may just have been an old wound you poked by accidentally blocking it (I have lived in a property where my neighbour frequently blocked me in and it drove me absolutely insane), your neighbours are probably perfectly reasonable otherwise!

Hope it all works out smile

Sunnysummer Sat 29-Jun-13 08:41:01

As pointed out up thread.. I dimly remember from law lectures that you are required to make your land safe for even unasked visitors (something to do with a trespasser getting hit by a collapsing chimney and the landowner still being liable). It is definitely worth contacting your local citizens advice bureau or even a local solicitor with land law experience, just so you have an idea of where the law stands, before you start further discussions.

Your offer to pay for a cover sounds very reasonable, I hope that it goes well!

learnasyougo Sat 29-Jun-13 08:45:14

locks and supervision are no replacement for making that well safe, imo. One single momentary lapse (or a visitor leaving the door open, or deliveries being made, or a dodgey closing mechanism, or this or that or something else, all could lead to the avoidable death of a child. yet there is one very simple solution (it's not as if the well us in use ffs) of covering the well.

Ti those who think resolving on better supervision or locks are the answer, just look at the drowning stats in australia before and after it was made law to have pools fenced and child-proof gates fitted.

I think most neighbours would agree to your paying for a nice cover for their well if small children are around.

Llareggub Sat 29-Jun-13 08:51:38

My 4 year old can unlock doors. There's nothing as inquisitive as a 4 year old. They have no sense.

Triumphoveradversity Sat 29-Jun-13 08:53:23

Apart from offering to pay for a cover, which is a good idea. Could your door be moved to open in to your own garden? because it is a bit of a recipe for niggly stuff between neighbours.

We have a shared drive and have had three lots of neighbours, no disputes thank goodness but this is a right of access issue that could always escalate in to something.

LIZS Sat 29-Jun-13 08:53:36

yabu, shared access is not free access and to allow your dc to freely go in and out over neighbours property is likely to be intrusive, regardless of the well issue. What if they left the gate onto the road open , would you expect them to stop them escaping if you had let them out to play? If you have any other doors accessing directly into the garden use those unless you are accompanying them out. Otherwise keep it and the adjoining gate locked with the bolts , locks etc well out of reach.

Bunbaker Sat 29-Jun-13 09:01:41

"4 is old enough to be told to walk directly to your door and nowhere else. You will be there supervising them."

Really! Every minute of every day! That is totally unrealistic. Do you know any four year olds that always do as they are told? I don't. At 4 DD could come and go into the (secure) back garden as and when she pleased. Besides the OP is heavily pregnant and when the baby comes she won't be able to keep an eye on her daughter 24/7. I would think that physically impossible.

I don't have anything useful to add, but am a little worried that you have bought a house with shared access with a potentially unreasonable neighbour. I am also struggling to understand how you have a door that opens out onto your neighbour's garden. Is your extension on their property as well?

I think it might be worth asking your solicitor for advice.

melika Sat 29-Jun-13 09:06:37

I had an incident when DS1 was 3 yrs old, we had just moved into our house and while I was busy unpacking my DS found a break in the fence. He says he followed a cat through to the garden at the back. I think he made several trips, telling me in broken 3yr old language that he had. I didn't take much notice because I didn't see how he could have. There were a line of conifers hiding it. That garden had a pond. My neighbour shouted over that I should look after my children and didn't I know she had a pond and he could of drowned. I was shocked but a little offended, she could see the fence had come down but I couldn't. They had made no attempt to mend it. It is a share fence but within the hour DH got behind and secured it. She was a horrible neighbour, never got on after that. I did explain to her we had just moved in but she kept saying it was my responsibility to look after my child.

LIZS Sat 29-Jun-13 09:17:43

Melika exactly , it was your responsibility to ensure your ds stayed on your property and check the boundaries before letting him loose. Neighbour could have said fence was broken but in the end they may not have realised your small child would wander through. Young children are so easily distracted by cute animals, odd noises, losing a ball etc.

OP, is neighbour trying to sell as, if so, they won't want to be in dispute with you if so and may be amenable to your request . Could you even offer to buy the strip of land your door opens onto so you can secure the area giving access into your garden. However that doesn't change the gist of my previous post.

SoupDragon Sat 29-Jun-13 09:44:45

Regardless of whether it is a "permanent" solution, locking the door and gate is a solution. Dismissing either out of hand as "impractical" is ridiculous.

As for bringing up Australia's swimming pool laws, if Australia can have childproof locks on gates into swimming pools then it is perfectly likely that childproof locks are available for, say, preventing access to a neighbour's garden. Rather amusing to raise it as an example of safety having said locks and supervision are no replacement for making that well safe

learnasyougo Sat 29-Jun-13 09:50:35

Soupdragon - the difference is that, in a gated pool it is the object itself that is locked up, rather than the child (and all other people, who need to come and go through that door).

Helpyourself Sat 29-Jun-13 09:57:17

Can you access your garden without going out of the utility room?
I can't picture the arrangement.
If you can, I'd lock the utility room outside door and never use it. If not I'd seriously consider pulling out. What's the point of having a garden if the children can't access it safely. If not the well, it'll be people leaving access to the front open.

SoupDragon Sat 29-Jun-13 10:03:03

Soupdragon - the difference is that, in a gated pool it is the object itself that is locked up, rather than the child (and all other people, who need to come and go through that door)

No, access to the item is prevented in both cases. The child is not locked up, they are prevented from having unsupervised access to a dangerous area - in one case a pool, in the other a garden with a hazard in it. No adults are prevented from having access because they can open the door.

SoupDragon Sat 29-Jun-13 10:04:10

It's no different to putting stairgate up. They are an irritation for adults who want to use the stairs but prevent a child from accessing them.

ExcuseTypos Sat 29-Jun-13 10:17:37

To be on the safe side the well should be secured. It is the safest and most logical thing to do. Locking a door or a gate when there is shared access allows for human error to end in tragedy.

You can't live in permanent worry that someone had forgotten to lock a door or gate when you've got 2 small children.

wonkylegs Sat 29-Jun-13 10:20:17

I'm another one for locking the door and teaching your children of the danger.
How many of us live near busy roads. Substitute 'well' for 'road' and you'll soon see that the suggestion to lock the door and supervise your child isn't so ridiculous.
Ok poster up thread was a bit harsh but she had a point - it is the most immediate and easy solution and the only one you have ultimate control over.

melika Sat 29-Jun-13 10:55:13

LIZS we did check the garden fences and thought it was safe to let him out, we also had a dog too. But the conifers were hiding that one panel had come adrift from the top to the middle and he still got through.

You could not have seen it coming, that is my point, even though you do your best to make it safe there is always something maybe you never thought of.

SoupDragon Sat 29-Jun-13 11:22:17

You can't live in permanent worry that someone had forgotten to lock a door or gate when you've got 2 small children.

Then put an alarm on the back door.

There are things you can control (in this situation securing your home and garden) and things you can't (in this case whether the neighbours will/have secured the well).

Also, what if the well cover has failed? What if it is faulty? What if it's damaged? You can have a list of "what ifs" as long as the proverbial piece of string. Being a parent is a permanent worry no matter what safety precautions you take.

The children need to be taught how to keep themselves safe - so don't go in the garden without asking. Don't go near the well. Any other security measures should only be to back this up.

ExcuseTypos Sat 29-Jun-13 12:00:47

Of course you can never be 100% sure.

Hopefully the neighbour is a nice rational person, who will agree to the Op paying for a cover. The Op will I'm sure, teach her dc not to wander into next doors garden, I'm sure she will also keep the door locked when possible, to ensure the dc don't wonder. All of these things should ensure the children are as safe as possible.

Also, every piece of advice I've ever seen, regarding water in a garden, says that if young children have access, you should cover it. Look at NSPCC etc. So it's not just people on MN saying she should do that. It's common, well known advice.

I think the OP is doing her best in the circumstances - they didn't know about the well when buying the house and are trying their best to make the situation safe when it's far from ideal.

No one plans for their children to be injured - The OP is trying to take all the reasonable steps she can. If telling children not to run off and to stay where you've told them to stay was enough no child would ever get hurt.

There will always be something that you couldn't have forseen and the point is to make what you can as safe as possible. If something happened to a child in these circumstances the op would be ripped to shreds for relying only on telling the child not to approach the danger and not taking steps to make the well as safe as possible.

I think the nastier posts have been really unnecessary. OP hope things get sorted out and hope all goes well with the new baby and new home.

Nagoo Sat 29-Jun-13 12:29:35

You are getting ahead of yourself.

Just ask them if you can arrange for them to have it covered.

No one wants a small child to drown in their well.

quoteunquote Sat 29-Jun-13 12:31:33

when my sister had just turned four, she got up one sunday morning, middle of summer about 5am, quietly slipped downstairs, she found the back door key, unlocked the door difficult enough for an adult, climbed on the kitchen work surface, slid back the top bolt, then the bottom bolt,

she walked across Cambridge, crossing the Cam river and several main roads,

when she got to her friends house her friend let her in and hid her in the utility room,

Friend's mother, discovered her almost at the exact time my parents discovered she was missing.

She and her friend had cooked up the idea the previous day when they were saying goodbye to each other as friend was off on a summer holiday.

My poor parents were really shocked, she normally was a late waker, and noisy the moment she woke jumping on them in bed, and usually it was me who would do a sudden bunk,

children are very unpredictable,

Removing one hazard won't hurt.

SaucyJack Sat 29-Jun-13 22:18:45

OK, yes, I was a bit rude but that's only because I'm so genuinely baffled at the OP and some of the responses on here that I couldn't bring myself to type a sensible answer.

I just cannot understand why someone who purports to be so concerned for their child's safety that they've been up all night worrying would find it so entirely beyond their responsibility to keep outside doors locked or to supervise young children when playing outside. Is that just not what every other parent does every day as standard without whinging? Regardless of how 'impractical' it is to actually have to parent your child 24/7 or not having 'eyes in the back of your head'.

And what will you do if next door sells the house to someone who covers the well but moves a bad tempered Rottweiler in instead? Demand they have it put to sleep? Serious question btw.

It is down to you to keep your child safe.

Nottalotta Sat 29-Jun-13 22:53:19

I'm just wondering what you all do in the summer when its warm? Most people i know have the back door open. Even when the child is old enough to go out of the back door and across neighbours garden to their own garden gate, the well still needs covering. Not covering it and locking the back door day and night (aswell as the front which presumably has access to the great wide world) is just not practical for ever more.

Lovelygoldboots Sat 29-Jun-13 23:15:31

You werent a bit rude jack. You slammed into the op for no good reason. Never once has the op asked for an assessment of her parenting skills. She wanted to know if it was reasonable to ask her neighbours to cover the well. Some people think yes, others no. The op can then make up her mind how to deal with the problem.

sashh Sun 30-Jun-13 04:55:31

If they are moving could you ask them to remove it and you cover the costs?

CarpeVinum Sun 30-Jun-13 06:26:34

I live in Italy not the UK, so tahe law might be different. I have two wells. By law I am liable if anybody falls in them, even if they are not supposed to be there. When we were doing work to replace the pipes that takes white water to them we had to have the builders rig covers overnight that could take the wieght of a full grown man in case a burgular came that night and fell in.

So even if its not on your property your neighbour might be putting him/herself in a potentially finatically diffiuctl postion by not ensuring that the well is covered. Particualry if there is shared access so it is known that other people will pass in that area.

sashh Sun 30-Jun-13 07:43:02

As well as the cover (no pun intended) I would arrange with owner for you to all go and look at the well together, to explain how dangerous it is and that no one under the age of 18 is allowed anywhere near it.

4 year olds are curious, but it is better to go with him/her to look and hopefully get over the curiosity.

Bunbaker Sun 30-Jun-13 08:26:22

Excellent post SnapCackleFlop. Some of the nastier posts have been written by people who either don't have 4 year olds, are perfect parents, stupidly naive or take helicopter parenting to the nth degree.

When DD was 4 I didn't have her in my sight during every hour she was awake. I had to cook meals, go to the loo, hang washing out etc. I don't believe anyone who says they never, ever let their 4 year old out of sight.

carlywurly Sun 30-Jun-13 08:48:02

I work in insurance. I would not want a well in my garden with children next door. You need to have a fact finding chat with them and see how the land lies (so to speak)

I'd probably point out their potential liability if all else fails but hopefully an amicable conversation will suffice. And do your best to keep the dcs off their land anyway, nobody wants that intrusion.

colleysmill Sun 30-Jun-13 09:23:05

If I read it correctly the op doesn't actually know if the well is covered or not so surely the first place to start is asking them. Then that might lead easily into a discussion about covering it if it isn't.

I don't supervise ds all the time but I do in the garden because other than fencing off our stream (which we've done) its the best option (other than moving) to reducing the risk of him falling in. Just as I supervise him when we are out in the village where the stream runs through the centre and its not fenced off. A well atleast can be covered over if it isn't already but who knows - you might find it already is.

It's been an interesting thread for me - dh and I had quite a long discussion about whether we've become a bit laissez faire about it all - sometimes when you live with something you kind of get used to it and the measures we put in place over the years like keeping the kitchen door locked becomes second nature and you forget that you do them and that its not "regular" for other people. maybe we are a little bit laid back about it and that's probably something we should be more careful of becoming.

In the ops case its more difficult because its not on her property - if it was most people would surely just cover it over/fill it in or not buy the house at all. But until you ask the question you won't know.

grumpyinthemorning Sun 30-Jun-13 10:36:05

OP, I completely sympathize. DS managed to open the front door and make a run for the main road. Scared the life out of me. I'd left him playing in the living room for two minutes while I went to the loo, and next thing I know I'm hoiking up my trousers and running to grab him. I now have so many locks and bolts on my front door that it's more secure than bloody Alcatraz.

My point is, it's not possible to watch them every second, and anyone who thinks it is is talking out their arse. It happened to me, and I only have one, any more would give me a heart attack!

Try to prevent your kids going into their garden if you can, but definitely talk to the neighbours about the well. It could already be covered, and if it's not, it's not unreasonable to suggest it. Hope that helps.

wonkylegs Sun 30-Jun-13 11:13:40

I wouldn't expect anybody to have eyes in the back of their heads but you need to do everything in YOUR power to prevent accidents happening.
For the OP it may include talking to their neighbour but they cannot force somebody else to do something or even rely on them to do it. The op can however lock the door and teach their child that they aren't allowed outside by themselves and that wells are dangerous.
It's going to be a combination of prevention and education.
Kids at 4 are wilful and inquisitive but they are also receptive to rules and take and awful lot in especially if repeated over and over consistently and clearly.
You can't rely on this but you can lay the ground rules and foundations for them understanding danger which is the best overall prevention, especially if there are hazards you might not immediately identify but they stumble upon.

lachrymavitis Sun 30-Jun-13 13:48:21

Bunbaker - I don't think any of the posts have said their don't let their children out of their sight. They have said that it is the parent's responsibility to look after the child first and foremost.

The suggestion from a few is that keeping your door locked so your child cannot go outside without you being aware of it is a sensible step. Children can only open locked doors if they have access to the keys.

Pendeen Tue 02-Jul-13 10:24:27


"I live in Italy not the UK, so tahe law might be different. I have two wells. By law I am liable if anybody falls in them, even if they are not supposed to be there"

UK law has similar provisions, as I pointed out to further up the thread - Occupiers Liability Act.

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