Water trenches make Henleaze 'look like the Somme'
FIFTEEN businesses in the Henleaze area have made claims for compensation due to works currently being carried out by Bristol Water, it has been revealed.
The company's £22 million "resilience" scheme to replace old Victorian water pipes in the area has caused chaos around Wellington Hill West, with many road closures.
The company says laying two new pipes and building a new pumping station will allow it to move water from its northern sources into the heart of Bristol in the event of a loss of supply from its southern, Mendip-based sources.
Residents were given a chance to question officials from Bristol Water, works contractor May Gurney and the city council at a meeting organised by Bristol North West MP Charlotte Leslie.
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One resident questioned officials about whether they had thought about the impact on traders before they started the work.
Philip Marshall, director of customer services at Bristol Water, told the audience that there were currently 15 businesses in the area which were submitting claims.
He said some traders had already been given interim payments while their claims were assessed.
It was also revealed at the meeting that once Bristol Water finishes its works in March, Wessex Water is to begin work on sewer improvements.
Roads affected include Wellington Hill West, Cherington Road and Glenwood Road.
Residents questioned why the works could not have been undertaken at the same time.
Ian Drury, spokesman for Wessex Water, told them: "We always look to coordinate works with other utility companies but on this occasion we were unable to coincide our work with Bristol Water due to the different construction techniques used.
"There would also be a risk of contamination of water supplies."
Julian Lea-Jones, who lives in Springfield Road and is retired, told officials that Henleaze should be renamed the Somme, due to all the trenches being dug in various roads.
Around 40 residents attended last night's meeting at the United Reform Church in Waterford Road.
Most said there had been a lack of communication by Bristol Water in notifying residents about when specific works would take place.
Jenny Holmes, who lives in Hill View, said she had been notified in September that work was due to start in a certain part of the road, only for it to actually start one week ago.
"The only way I've received information is to walk down to the gangs working in the trenches and actually ask them myself," she said.
"I don't think this is right – there should be much better communication."
Ms Leslie asked the residents how they would rate Bristol Water's communication, with most raising their hands to deem it "bad" or "very bad".
Mike Smith, director of engineering at Bristol Water, said he acknowledged there were concerns about communication, and had taken on board what residents said.
Ms Leslie asked residents how they thought it could be improved.
Using local publications and the Henleaze website, holding regular public meetings, advertising works in local shops, introducing a live map of works on Bristol Water's website and having a company liaison person in each street were some of the suggestions put forward.