Parliamentary Candidate Zöe Franklin's letter to Thames Water Co-CEOs regarding Guildford water issues

24 Nov 2023
Zöe Franklin outside Ladymead sewage treatment works

Zöe Franklin, Prospective Lib Dem MP for Guildford and our villages, has written to the Co-CEOs of Thames Water about the recent water outage and pressure issues, the ongoing problems residents are experiencing, compensation and other aspects of customer service.

You can read the full text of the letter below.


Alastair Cochran & Catherine Ross
Interim Co-Chief Executive Officers
Thames Water
Clearwater Court
Vastern Road
Reading
RG1 8DB

23rd November 2023

Dear Mr Cochran & Ms Ross

Open letter regarding water supply failures in Guildford 

From the 3rd to 10th November, homes, schools, and businesses across the GU1 and GU2 areas went without water and/or had low water pressure for up to eight days. I am also aware that, even after the event was declared over by yourselves, residents of the Bray Road area continue to experience the disruption of an inconsistent water supply and tankers pumping water into the system to supply Farnham Road Hospital 24 hours a day.

You will be aware that this extended period of no water/low water pressure has caused significant disruption, distress and frustration for residents and the schools, businesses and other organisations impacted. A big contributor to feelings of anger and frustration has been your communication with residents. 

Initially, residents struggled to get information, with your online reporting system not indicating there was a problem in the area despite many residents indicating on social media that they had reported the issues. Then, and throughout the incident, your communication platforms have provided little information about the cause instead repeatedly telling residents “our engineers are working to resolve the issue and we hope that your water supply will resume shortly”. There have been multiple times when residents have been told “the problem is resolved” and there remains no water from their taps.

You did publicly state that the disruption was caused by Storm Ciaran at Shalford Water Treatment Works and then a problem at Ladymead Water Treatment Works. Since then it has been down to ‘air locks’.

Residential and business customers deserve better than this. Both in terms of water service level and customer service. Given we are paying for a water supply we expect to be able to rely on that service or receive honest information from you about the issue and realistic timescales for repair, not vague platitudes.

As well as the obvious issues associated with the water outage, there are other wider problems including the significant impact on business profits at a time when businesses are already struggling due to rising costs; the fact that parents suddenly found themselves needing to find a solution for their children being sent home from school; and there was extended disruption to children’s education as a result of being sent home. 

I appreciate that your engineers work hard to ensure supply is maintained year-round, the increasing instances of low water pressure and water outages are of serious concern. The repeated problems with water supply to Guildford and Waverley Boroughs raise questions in my mind, and that of residents and businesses, about the adequacy of the water infrastructure that serves our communities and your investment in maintaining that infrastructure.

I previously wrote to you on 16th August 2022 and 8th December 2022 about water outages in Guildford and Waverley, and there have been other instances of disrupted water supply since. In those letters, I sought clarification and information from you on a number of issues, and I am doing so again.

It is my understanding that Thames Water has an automatic compensation scheme for residents which refunds domestic customers £30 for every 12 hours they are without water. I am regularly advised by residential customers that they wait long periods for these payments or find that you dispute their claims despite them having no water at times you insist they do. Please can you advise how you intend to ensure that all those affected receive compensation, and how anyone who does not receive any can ensure they do?

It is, of course, not just domestic customers who were adversely affected by the recent water supply problems. Pubs, restaurants and other businesses, schools, and other organisations have also been impacted and I note that, as for domestic customers, you have a business compensation scheme. Please can you advise how all businesses and organisations in the area can make a claim as quickly and easily as possible so that they can apply for compensation to reduce the financial impact on them?

I look forward to hearing your detailed response to the issues I have raised in this letter.

Yours sincerely

Zöe

Zöe Franklin
Prospective Liberal Democrat MP for Guildford

 

Snippet of letter by Zöe Franklin to Thames Water