Fringe Box



Gold Commander Being Appointed to Manage Bramley Fuel Leak Incident

Published on: 2 Jun, 2024
Updated on: 4 Jun, 2024

By Martin Giles

A “Gold Commander” is being appointed to manage, at a strategic level, the response to the fuel leak incident at Bramley.

See also: Bramley Water Contamination – Residents Noticed Fuel Smells At Least Three Years Ago

Jeremy Hunt, who is standing as the Conservative candidate for the Godalming & Ash constituency, which includes Bramley, criticised the response so far from Waverley Borough Council, saying on social media this morning: “There is a MUCH BIGGER issue than Waverley [Borough Council] are pretending”.

Jeremy Hunt MP

Mr Hunt labelled the response from the leader of Waverley Council, Lib Dem Paul Follows, who is also Hunt’s main general election opponent,  as “wholly inadequate”. He said he had spoken to Tim Oliver, the Conservative leader of Surrey County Council, and asked him to set up a “Gold Command” to resolve the issue, adding that “multiple agencies need coordinating and only Surrey [County Council] has the ability to put this in place so we can resolve the issues as quickly as possible.”

This afternoon Mr Hunt confirmed that Cllr Oliver had agreed the appointment.

Broadband repairs “could be affected for months” – see below.

Paul Follows

But Cllr Follows rejected Hunt’s earlier criticism. He pointed out that he had already “made recommendations as to a chair of that proposed Gold Command (but as we both know the emergency services will make a determination on the need for one based on the facts). It doesn’t happen because a political person asks for it (which is as it should be).

“This is not a Waverley issue to respond to.”

Meanwhile the disruption continues for residents in Bramley and for motorists passing through, who face traffic light queues and the closure of Snowdenham Lane. Dragon reader and contributor Jan Messinger said the smell of petrol “was absolutely awful” this morning as she waited at the lights.

All manhole and inspection pit covers in Bramley have had “DO NOT ENTER” warnings spray painted on them

It also emerged today that Surrey Fire & Rescue Service (SFRS) were called to assess the risk following a smell of petrol in a BT Openreach inspection pit in the village. Concerns have been raised since all manhole covers had “DO NOT ENTER” painted on them.

The fire service concluded that the risk of fire from manholes and inspection pits in Bramley containing fuel fumes is low.

In an SFRS report sent to The Guildford Dragon NEWS it is stated: “The technical advice given at the incident was clear and concise, in that there was no risk to the public, and that the smell was from residual petroleum mixed with water…”.

It goes on to explain that terms used in an earlier report, “volatile substance” and “Lower Explosive Limit (LEL)”, “have been interpreted by some parties as presenting a higher risk to the public than is actually the case”.

In measurements taken from the pits by SFRS, readings of 20 per cent to 80 percent of the LEL were recorded but this meant that the mixture was too lean to ignite.

In one pit, the gas monitor indicated that the LEL had been reached immediately above the water surface but this was at that level only, in a single pit; the monitor alarm stopped as soon as it was moved a few centimetres above the water and showed no signs of hydrocarbons at ground level, with the lid replaced.

The SFRS report

However Jeremy Hunt said that despite an assessed low risk of fire, the presence of fumes could prevent Openreach carrying out broadband repairs and impact power supplies.

The Conservative candidate, who was the MP for the area until the general election was called, said: “Openreach are saying they may not be able to repair any broadband issues in large parts of Bramley for months because they cannot send electrical pulses down copper wires in their ducts when there is a risk of explosion. This could affect power networks as well.”

Godalming & Ash general Election Candidates as at May 30







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Responses to Gold Commander Being Appointed to Manage Bramley Fuel Leak Incident

  1. John Ferns Reply

    June 2, 2024 at 7:55 pm

    Well done, Jeremy!

    Though you may not be the Chancellor of the Exchequer for much longer, you now have ample opportunity to serve all your constituents, given your extensive knowledge of where the levers of power lie, and how to engage them. And especially your new constituents in Ash should welcome the breadth your wide ministerial experience brings.

    As for Cllr Follows, there is still a job of work that needs to be done for Waverley residents. And do not forget the urgent problems that face the GBC/Waverley collaboration, which cannot be ignored. I would suggest these need resolving first and Cllr Follows energies might best be used there.

  2. Peta Malthouse Reply

    June 3, 2024 at 8:41 am

    You really have to question what Mr Hunt has been doing the last three years. A quick look at Waverley Council’s website shows that once the cost and support to inspect land for contamination used to be funded by grant from DEFRA but the government cancelled this in 2013. This leaves our borough and district councils with all the responsibility but no central government support.

    Who owns the land because ultimately whatever the local authority find it is for the landowner to stop continuing pollution?

    Thames Water also have obligations which it seems they have been slow to meet. I welcome Mr Hunt’s involvement now. But then we do have an election coming.

  3. John Perkins Reply

    June 3, 2024 at 9:08 am

    Gold, eh? No longer content with being mere “top brass”. No doubt we can expect platinum soon as it’s even more precious.

    Editor’s comment: According to Wikipedia: “In some cases, the national government (via the Cabinet Office Briefing Rooms) will assume ultimate control and act as a ‘platinum’ level.”

  4. Zoltan Jorovic Reply

    June 3, 2024 at 5:28 pm

    Mr Hunt claims that it is “a much bigger issue than WBC are pretending”. As far as I can see nobody is pretending anything.

    The petrol leak is a matter for Surrey County Council (SCC), as Petrol Enforcement Authority (PEA) and ASDA. The water contamination a matter for Thames Water. The problem with BT Openreach ducts, is for Openreach to deal with. Quite why Mr Hunt tries to blame WBC is a mystery.

    Interestingly, nobody from SCC spoke at the village meeting when the origin of the leak was explained. This despite the fact that SCC are the ones who issue petrol storage certficates and so have a measure of responsibility for petrol safety. One would have expected them, as the PEA, to be present and have something to say about how the leak was able to continue for so long.

    Nor did we hear from the Environment Agency (EA), who should be investigating how this happened and who was responsible.

    If I were Mr Hunt I would direct my attention towards the EA and PEA rather than Waverley if he wants to get answers for the people of Bramley.

  5. Terry Harrison Reply

    June 4, 2024 at 10:02 am

    This has been a digusting classic case of “dodgy, deny, deflect” for years. Mr Hunt claimed to be on top of this months ago, and what’s happened? Sums up the state of this nation.

  6. Mike Livingstone Reply

    June 8, 2024 at 8:03 am

    Jeremy Hunt is certainly a good constituency MP, even with all the demands of being Chancellor. Paul Follows is more of a party apparatchik, and had already failed in his role at Waverley.

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