It has been described as a gunshot by residents and businesses, as a loose manhole cover plagues a Norfolk high street.

The loud bang echoing across the centre of Dereham is from the cover on the High Street, caused when vehicles drive over it near the turn-off for Norwich Street.

Richard Hawker, a resident from Hockering, first noticed the noise when he was in Dereham just after Christmas last year.

Mr Hawker believed he reported it to the Highways Department at Norfolk County Council in January, but could not find any record of it.

He said the noise got worse over the following three months, he reported it to Highways in April, but was told: “it doesn't meet our criteria for intervention.”

A spokesperson for Norfolk County Council said on July 15, “That this is a loose utility cover and following an inspection, we reported it to Anglian Water as needing repair.”

A spokesperson for Anglian Water confirmed that they have the work scheduled to take place on the cover - with an exact timescale to follow.

Mr Hawker was most concerned about residents living close to the cover.

“I feel for the people locally, both who live nearby and the businesses,” he said.

“They are constantly in earshot of it, and they must get this all day and night.

“When a car goes over it, it is loud, but when it is a bus, my goodness, it's really like a gunshot.”

One of those who live nearby is Marcus Horsfall, a baker whose bedroom window is just metres away.

“It is so annoying, I have a son who struggles to sleep with the noise,” he said.

“It is a nightmare, especially when sitting outside, and having friends over, you are constantly hearing this noise.”

Krista Stevenson, shop manager at the RSPCA charity shop is just yards away from the manhole cover.

Mrs Stevenson said the cover is having a hugely negative impact on business.

“We have had people in the queue who have put their stuff back and left the shop,” she said.

“We have had to turn the radio up, or close the door, just trying out best to cover the noise somehow.”

“We are really worried about someone breaking the cover off and there being an accident here.”