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Residents ‘Unimpressed’ with Thames Water’s ‘Shoddy Repairs’ to High Street Setts

Published on: 22 Apr, 2023
Updated on: 22 Apr, 2023

By Hugh Coakley

Thames Water are leaving Guildford residents “unimpressed with their record on repairs and fed up that they appear unwilling to fix shoddy repairs quickly” said Guildford county councillor, Fiona Davidson (R4GV, Guildford South East).

She was referring to the standard of “making good” of the granite setts surface of Guildford High Street after repair work by the utility company.

Thames Water reinstatement of granite setts in Guildford High Street. Just two months after being accused of a “cowboy job” about 10 metres away, the latest repair has setts missing, is higher than the surrounding pavement and the mortar is completely mismatched.

The Dragon reported two months ago the poor quality of repairs by Thames Water to the heritage High Street (see ‘Cowboy’ Cobbles Sett All Wrong in the High Street Thames Water). This area still remains in the same poor state of repair, visually and structurally.

And since then, Thames Water has dug up two more areas in the High Street, presumably for necessary repair work, but again have badly reinstated them. Other poor Thames Water patch-ups have also been noted, including cracked and unlevelled paving bricks around a Thames Water manhole in Market Street.

One of the areas dug up by Thames Water on March 31 smashed the granite setts in the process.

Experience Guildford Town Rangers remonstrated at the time with a Thames Water team who were digging outside of jewellersMappin & Webb (March 31) as they were breaking up the granite setts.

The utility company work team said they were looking for a leak. The work appeared to stop but the subsequent reinstatement is missing several setts, is noticeably higher than the surrounding pavement and the mortar is completely mismatched.

Another recent repair around a Thames Water access hole in Market Street has cracked mortar, broken paving bricks and is not level with the rest of the pavement.

A passer-by said watching at the time said: “They have to find the leaks but surely they can remove the cobbles [sic] without smashing them up.”

A visitor to the town looking at the repair said: “Considering it’s an historical street, it’s a very shabby job.”

And a young woman walking to work said: “It doesn’t look great, does it,” while two tradesmen in the town looking for a reasonably priced coffee said: “It might blend in after about 15 years but it doesn’t look good now.”

These poor patch-ups to the High Street pavement just add to the general shabby look around the town of cracked and mismatched paving slabs which make the town centre look “unloved, abandoned and neglected”.

A spokesperson for Surrey County Council said in April 2022 they would be: “…carrying out a major repair of Guildford High Street soon, as well as Swan Lane later this year. We recognise the prestigious nature of Guildford High Street and the pavements just off it, and we carry out more frequent monthly inspections on these areas.” But the repairs are still awaited.

Cllr Fiona Davidson

Cllr Davidson said a number of her residents had been in touch and she said she would highlight to the SCC streetworks team “just how fed-up residents are with this sort of poor repair”.

“The problem is that, legally, SCC can’t require a utility to restore a repair to its original state until six months after the repair has been carried out. SCC can and does speak to the utility about shoddy repairs, but they can’t force remedial action.

“After six months however, they have the power to fine if a substandard repair is not rectified. There’s a street works team of around 38 personnel paid for entirely by the fines extracted from utility companies in Surrey. Amazing huh?”

A spokesperson for Surrey County Council said: “Thames Water have raised permits for these repairs to take place between May 12 to 15. Permits had been raised twice previously but these were cancelled for operational reasons.

“We remain in regular contact with Thames Water regarding these reinstatements and have been for some time now, but it remains their responsibility to carry out these repairs.  We hope these works are completed soon to the correct standard and will continue to closely monitor the situation.”

The Dragon has asked Thames Water to comment but other than an automatic acknowledgement, there has been no reply.

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Responses to Residents ‘Unimpressed’ with Thames Water’s ‘Shoddy Repairs’ to High Street Setts

  1. Barry Williams Reply

    April 22, 2023 at 4:34 pm

    And after two and a half years Thames Water have still not reinstated the setts at the bottom of Mill Lane. It remains a tarmac patch despite SCC now having flagged the issue with them on at least three occasions. Could our GBC and SCC please get on the case with all of these TW complaints

  2. Dave Fielding Reply

    April 25, 2023 at 5:11 pm

    Every time Bramley has an issue you see a photo of Jeremy Hunt and TW Chief Executive, perhaps we should ask Jeremy to raise issues on behalf of Guildford.

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