Anger as hundreds go without water

WATER bosses came under fire last night for the second time in a week after hundreds of homes and businesses across a Suffolk town were left without water thanks to a burst main.

James Mortlock

WATER bosses came under fire last night for the second time in a week after hundreds of homes and businesses across a Suffolk town were left without water thanks to a burst main.

Yesterday's burst was believed to have been the third time in a year that the pipe in Tayfen Road, Bury St Edmunds, has ruptured in the same place and residents, the town's fire station, and companies - including restaurants - were hit by the problem.

Last night Anglian Water delivered 1,000 bottles of water to people in the area affected by the burst main as engineers worked to restore supply.

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One businessman, who asked not to be named, claimed the compamy was failing to carry out repair work properly, resulting in the repeated problems. He said: “Things just aren't the same since privatisation. This has happened three times in exactly the same place. Anglian Water just isn't what it used to be.”

However, bosses defended the firm's repair policy stressing that busts caused by earth movement - thought to be the problem yesterday - were difficult to prevent and that techniques used were “better than they ever have been”.

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The burst came only days after it was revealed complaints against Anglian Water had soared by almost 10,000 in just a year - the second highest increase recorded among water firms nationwide.

The Consumer Council for Water, which produced the report and has warned the firm it must improve, said Anglian Water could expect more complaints following yesterday's burst.

Peter Rose, manager the Tayfen Autopoint fuel station, said: “This is the second time this year it's happened from the same place and it happened late last year as well. The main has either burst or collapsed and the water just comes rushing down into our forecourt.

“Trade hasn't been hit but it's just inconvenient for customers and us. They have to walk through three or four inches of water to get to the shop - and they bring in the dirt washed down by the flood into the shop which we have to clear up.”

Firefighter Barry Richards said the burst main meant crews were unable to train using water but had carried out alternative drills instead: “Clearly, we can't turn our hydrants on but we can do other training so it hasn't really hit us other than we're not able to make a cup of tea.”

A spokesman for Anglian Water said water pressure and supply across much of the town was hit briefly by the burst until the affected pipe was isolated and its supply switched off. However, 120 properties had no water throughout yesterday afternoon and evening while workers grappled with fixing the burst at a busy junction and keeping traffic delays to a minimum.

He said the water giant was first notified of the burst 6in main at around 11.40am. He said the most likely cause of the burst was ground movement - possibly as a result of recent heavy rain.

“If it is a pipe that is struggling with ground movement then there's not a lot we can do to stop it happening - that's why we're a 24-hour-a-day company responding to emergencies. And repairs are better now than they ever have been - we have so many better techniques at our disposal,” he said.

Anglian Water workers were on the scene within a few minutes working to repair problem and the spokesman expected supply to be restored to the affected homes around midnight.

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