A man  fled from a van towing a suspected stolen woodchipper after it jack-knifed in the road.

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) officers were on Hall Lane between Little Lever and Farnworth, commonly known as ‘Potters Brew’, on Monday morning.

Officers say that a man fled the scene as its officers approached.

A GMP spokesperson said: “At approximately 11am on Monday January 2, 2022, officers received reports of a suspicious van which had been jack-knifed near Moses Gate Country Park on Hall Lane in Bolton.

“As officers approached the van, an unknown male is reported to have fled the scene.

“The van is reported to have been towing a woodchipper and a section 165 was authorised as the woodchipper is suspected to have been stolen.”

Forestry Journal: Officers investigating the van and woodchipperOfficers investigating the van and woodchipper (Image: Newsquest)

A section 165 means the officer had reasonable grounds to believe that the driver was uninsured or was not driving in accordance with their driving licence.

The abandoned grey van and trailer then caused a blockage on one side of the road, reportedly queuing traffic all the way back towards Little Lever.

One of those sat in traffic, who asked not to be named, recalls there being “no driver or occupant around, but passenger door was open”.

They added: “The policeman had a look in bushes but didn’t see anybody.”

Chris Gillibrand, who was sat on a bus waiting to get past the incident, added: “It was at the bottom of the brow. Between Moses Gate Country Park and Crompton Lodges Caravan Park.

“I saw the vehicle sat up the hill. The front end was towards the curb with the plant equipment jack-knifed on the trailer.

Forestry Journal: The abandoned van and trailer caused delays backing up to Little LeverThe abandoned van and trailer caused delays backing up to Little Lever (Image: Newsquest)

“There was a GMP Traffic Officer sat with it, investigating on the driver’s side. I couldn’t see any occupants inside the vehicle.

“We weren’t waiting too long, but because of the positioning of the vehicle, traffic from the Little Lever direction was delayed whilst passing the incident.”

Little Lever and Darcy Lever councillor Sean Hornby also saw the van as he was driving towards Little Lever at around 11.30am.

He says he did not experience any delays but those heading the opposite direction were queued back up to the petrol station on Church Street in Little Lever.

“I saw a vehicle on the brew,” he said. “It looked like the back end had gone and a forklift truck was trying to get it moving.”