‘You’re disgusting,’ Angel flood water firm is told
23 January, 2017 — By Koos Couvée
Thames Water’s Simon Hughes: ‘We will do what we can to make it right’
THAMES Water chiefs were this week publicly accused of a “bloody disgusting” failure to maintain the firm’s network of pipes.
More than 50 victims of last month’s flooding in Angel saw representatives of the privatised utility taken to task by councillors on Wednesday over the incident which saw dozens of homes and businesses destroyed after a water mains burst in Upper Street.
Councillor Una O’Halloran, whose comments drew applause during an otherwise subdued meeting, said: “It’s bloody disgusting. With all the money Thames Water are making we shouldn’t have to be having these conversations.”
She told the Thames Water managers: “We know the pipes are old but you haven’t been doing your job. You’ve ruined a lot of people’s lives. Shame on you.”
Islington Council’s policy and performance committee has launched a review into the response by public services to floods in Angel on December 5 and in Stoke Newington a week later.
Thames Water chiefs were asked to defend their investment strategy for the creaking network of trunk mains amid concerns that bursts are on the rise in London.
Simon Hughes, planning chief at the company, said: “There’s no single overriding factor that has caused these problems, other than that they’re old and under a [traffic] load.”
The company has ordered a “forensic analysis” of all of its mains bursts in the last 12 months, which will be completed next month. The review is led by Paul Cuttill, who has more than 30 years’ experience in the utility sector.
“We are looking at every single [major burst] that has occurred over the past 12 months, looking at quality [of the mains], age and traffic issues,” Mr Hughes said, adding: “This is Thames Water’s fault and we will do what we can to make it right.”
Councillor Nick Wayne, who represents Canonbury ward, asked why it took the company almost four hours to stop water from Upper Street gushing into shops and homes. He was told the company had been notified of the burst just after 5am, and that the first technician arrived on the scene at 6.30am. It took until 8.45am to fully cut off the water supply because if this was done too quickly it could cause bursts in other parts of the system, Thames Water said.
Ten households in Charlton Place and Devonia Road will not be able to return home for six months while kitchens and basements are being stripped, dried out and completely refurbished. The floods caused damage to 35 businesses in and around Camden Passage, Islington’s antiques quarter.
Millions of pounds worth of irreplaceable antiques, some from the 16th century, were destroyed. Victims of the flood had expected to have their say during the three-hour meeting but were left disappointed after councillors did not take questions from the floor.
However, Councillor Richard Greening, chairman of the committee, said traders and residents would be able to grill Thames Water at a separate meeting on February 1. It will be held at the Business Design Centre, in Upper Street, starting at 6.30pm.