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Bonkers Blog October 2015

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18 October (Part 3) - UK Power not nitwits any more. But Thames Water may be

Two months ago the Knee Hill Abbey Road junction in Abbey Wood was disrupted for two weeks by totally unnecessary three way traffic lights. The reason was that a barrow load of earth had been dumped in the road and it had to be protected. The work itself was wholly on the pavement.

Abbey Road Abbey Road Abbey RoadThis week UK Power was back to dig up exactly the same spot but had acquired a little common sense. They have dumped the spoil a few yards away on the pavement.

Much better; maybe Bexley council leaned on them, they seem to be good at leaning on utility companies but common sense may be in short supply as this reader’s tale from Townley Road, Bexleyheath explains.

Thames Water’s stopcock outside my house was found to be seized and last Saturday two men came to replace it. They lifted a paving slab and dug a hole down to the valve and simply cut through the lead pipe and connected plastic pipe and a plastic valve.

They said the rules did not allow them to fill the hole and that someone else would come later. Barriers were placed around the hole and they departed.

The work had been done without turning off the mains water flow so seeing water in the hole was not a surprise; however it did not drain away.

On the Monday evening a neighbour baled out the water to below the new plastic pipework but within a few minutes it was back to its previous level. One or more of the new plastic pipe joints was clearly leaking. Thames Water was informed.

On Wednesday Thames Water turned up again and were asked if they had come to fix the leak. No we are here to fill the hole they said.

The leak was only too obvious but they insisted the hole must be filled immediately because the permit from Bexley council expired that day and if it wasn’t filled there would be a fine of £1,000 for each day the hole remained open.

A quick phone call to Thames Water confirmed that the watery hole was being filled as a consequence of Bexley council instructions and to avoid the fine. The leak was on their list of things to do but first they must apply for another permit from Bexley council.

Meanwhile the men were still filling the hole, not with the old spoil but with Type 1 material rammed down to the compaction strength specified by the council. Then a new paving slab was produced but instead of cutting it to fit the valve access plate the gap was filled with concrete. The men then left the scene leaving the safety barriers leaning against a garden wall.

Later that day yet another man arrived in a van and the driver collected the barriers.

If you have ever wondered why jobs done by public bodies always cost more than you might estimate, this is as good an example as any. If Bexley council operated its permit system a little more flexibly the costs might be reduced. On the other hand a lot of Thames Water sub-contractors might be out of a job.

Does FM Conway have to pay the fines too? All the major jobs overrun.


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