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County Council to Challenge Thames Water Over Its Performance and Incident Response

Published on: 14 Dec, 2023
Updated on: 17 Dec, 2023

Surrey Lib Dems used a motion at Tuesday’s full council meeting to secure the county council’s support to take Thames Water to task over its response to the recent interruptions in water supply for thousands of residents in the Guildford and Waverley borough areas.

Cllr Paul Follows

The motion proposed by Cllr Paul Follows (Lib Dem, Godalming South, Milford & Witley), just three days before a planned public meeting at the University of Surrey,  set out the difficulties suffered by around 13,000 households during a period of disruption that lasted for some communities, up to two weeks.

See: Details of MP-organised Public Meeting with Thames Water Announced

The outage not only affected private households, but also GPs, care homes, schools, and other public services, leading to the county council calling a major incident on November 5.

Cllr Liz Townsend

In seconding the motion Cllr Liz Townsend (Lib Dem, Cranleigh & Ewhurst) explained that residents in her division had also been impacted by spillages of raw sewage in their gardens and nearby rivers. She called on Thames Water to properly invest in its ageing infrastructure to prevent future incidents.

One of the agreed actions in the motion that was passed unanimously, was that Surrey County Council should write to Thames Water and challenge the company on aspects of its operation and incident response, as well as demanding it sets out how it will improve its performance in the future, should a similar event happen again.

Cllr Follows, who is also the Leader of Waverley Borough Council, was well placed to witness the impact that the interruption in service had on residents and businesses.

He said: “I was particularly concerned about the arrangements in place for vulnerable residents to obtain alternative supplies of drinking water. They [Thames Water] hadn’t really thought through the logistics properly and didn’t make provision for the many people who would be unable to travel to queue and pick up bottled water.

“Above all, I was really disappointed that Thames Water failed to communicate effectively with residents, businesses, and public bodies throughout the whole episode. In future, they need to up their game so that the initial problems are not compounded. They were extremely poor on this front.

“I am very glad that this motion received cross-party support and hope that it will help us secure a commitment from Thames Water to do better next time.”

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