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Flood victims: ‘Hold water firm to account’

Residents and business owners affected by water main burst in Upper Street, form campaign group to deal with privately-owned Thames Water

29 September, 2017 — By Emily Finch

From left, Jackie Monte-Colombo, Christine Lovett, Stuart Rock and Jo Willett: ‘They’ve taken a year of our lives’

RESIDENTS and business owners hit by a devastating flood have formed a campaign group calling for fairer treatment from Thames Water.

TV producer Jo Willett and husband Stuart Rock found their kitchen submerged by around two metres of water in December last year when a water main burst in Upper Street.

Out of six of their neighbours in Devonia Road forced out of their homes by the flood, the couple are the only ones to have returned after nine months.

Now, they have started a campaign group calling for transparency and fairer treatment from privately-owned Thames Water ahead of a final meeting with the company next week.

“We want them to recognise that the distress and damage they caused is very great. They’ve taken a year of our lives,” said Mr Rock.

“They have the resources to be able to deal better, and more quickly, generously and effectively than they have demonstrated this time. They should be held to account.”

The group’s 17 objectives include getting compensation from Thames Water for lost income and stress. They also want full reassurance from the company that there will be no further floods which affect their homes.

Some residents in nearby Charlton Place have found they can no longer insure their homes, according to Ms Willett.

She estimates that she is in contact with around 130 people affected by the burst pipe and says the majority are unhappy with Thames Water.

The company failed to put flood victims in touch with each other, she claims.

“They want to divide and rule us. They want to keep the power and decide who is due for stuff and who is not,” she added.

Neighbour Jackie Monte-Colombo, who lives in a Peabody housing association property, said all of her treasured family heirlooms had been destroyed.

“There’s been no one from Thames Water to guide us. If it weren’t for Jo and Stuart we wouldn’t know anything,” she said.

Christine Lovett, chief executive of Angel London, which represents business in the area, said around five businesses had permanently closed following the flood.

“We’ve got businesses all over Angel whose figures are down,” she said. “They are down by tens of millions of pounds.”

A Thames Water spokeswoman said: “We’re in regular contact with members of the group and have met with them a number of times.

“We’re being transparent with each of them and are treating their situations individually as each case is different and it isn’t appropriate to take a one-size-fits-all approach.

“We will continue to listen to their concerns, including at the meeting scheduled for October 4.”


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