Angry villagers rocked up to face Thames Water officials at a poorly advertised public meeting.
Around 60 people from the eastern villages attended the meeting called by Cranleigh Parish Council last week. However, The area’s MP was notably absent. Perhaps, Kodak Angie was busy playing the Christmas fairy at No 10!
An angry public was there to air their grievances on the Summer’s water shortages, sewage overspills during recent heavy rains, low water pressure, nifty sewage, and leaking pipes – here, there and everywhere! In Ewhurst in Cranleigh and all the nearby villages.
Only days after Monday’s meeting, residents were without water in the east of Guildford, the Waverley borough and parts of Mole Valley and Horsham. They are served by the Ladymead and Netley Mills water treatment works.
Schools were shut, and cafes and businesses closed.
Areas affected included: GU5 GU5 9 ,GU6 7, GU6 8, RH4 3, RH5 , RH 6; RH 12 .
Officers from Waverley, Mole Valley and Guildford councils and Applied Resilience (which supports GBC on emergency planning) worked overnight and met in the days that followed. Surrey County Council declared a major incident due to the impact and mobilised its Emergency Plans.
Agencies contacted ” known vulnerable people.” Thames Water provided bottled water at specific picking-up points in Guildford & Waverley.
Flooding in Barhatch Lane, Bookhurst Hill, at the entrance to Swallow Tiles and the new development of multi-million-pound homes in Swallowhurst was high on the Cranleigh agenda.
Residents grilled Thames Water officials, who it is believed hailed from its London office. Waverley Councillor Ruth Read, representing her constituents in Cranleigh East, spoke of the sheer misery burst mains, water shortages, and low water pressure was causing in the eastern villages. Cranleigh Parish Councillor Kathy Gould kicked up about the “stink” from the sewage treatment works on her patch in Elmbridge.
‘Obviously, with the onset of Winter, my residents and I are very concerned that the Bookhurst Road Thames Water issues are fixed without further delay. If you remember, this whole issue has been resonating now for over a year (the meeting that we had with you in our Cart Barn was on the 5th of January, 2022). With the winter weather on the way, if this issue is not addressed by Thames Water there will be accidents from the ever-increasing leaks both on footways and in Bookhurst Road.
Please do everything within your power to put pressure on those who will make the decision to make this an urgent priority.
Residents spoke of the leaks in Summerlands, where gas and electric mains were breached, leaving everyone without gas or electricity and other areas where the Internet was lost for days due to severed cables.
Several residents described the situation in the eastern villages as”farcical”, and the gathering listened with incredulity when one Thames Water official said:
Cranleigh is regarded by the authority –as an island, and is not a high priority.”
Borough and parish councillors have been bombarding TW with complaints for several years; homes have been severely damaged by burst pipes, leading to substantial insurance claims. Thousands of homes have suffered from repeated low pressure or no water. Verges and roads have been dug up – here, there and everywhere, with traffic lights and road closures popping up faster than Covid.
Thames Water officials pledged to
“take away the information they had gathered.”
What was the public’s verdict after the meeting ended -Nil Point, but they were comforted by the fact that TW was taking away the information they had gathered. One local said,
I found the whole exercise useless, but TW has gathered the information rather like nuts in May.