June 2018

Another Day Goes By Without Resolution

The water is still flowing out of the sewer and across the garden.  Here’s today’s picture.  It’s coming out of the drain at the top of the picture and running along the wall.

My two previous posts are also about this problem.

Sometimes when the flow is higher it gets into the drain at the lower left.  We don’t know where that drain leads to.  It’s only meant to carry rainwater away from the roof over the front door.  There is a possibility that it drains through a soakaway into the Ash Brook (the Cardingmill Valley stream).  If that’s the case – goodbye trout, goodbye bull head, goodbye caddis flies … I could continue… but don’t forget that those creatures feed the dippers and kingfishers that also live along this stream.

There were multiple promises from Severn Trent yesterday that they would get Amey to phone us in the afternoon and they would give us an update today.  Again they didn’t.  It was obvious that the work wasn’t done AGAIN last night, but we had to phone them this afternoon to find out that they still can’t get the manhole up in the main road and therefore can’t access the offending sewer.

Today I have contacted the Environment Agency.  I have also put in a query to Shropshire Council and John has written an official complaint to Severn Trent.  It’s time to ramp up the action, so the next step is social media and then the press.

Still living by an open sewer!

Couldn’t sleep this morning, so got up and went out to look.  The drain is still overflowing and sewage is still running out.  It has been 11 days since the problem started and 7 days since Amey/Severn Trent first visited the house.

Yesterday Lauren from the escalation team promised to phone me first thing to let me know what progress had been made. No call by 9am so I phoned Severn Trent AGAIN!  I asked to be put through to Lauren and was told that she wasn’t working today.  However, they promised a call back from another member of the team and 10 minutes later I had Peter on the phone, who explained that Lauren had been moved over to another job temporarily.

Peter checked with Amey.  This time they came out overnight and then discovered that they couldn’t raise the manhole cover!  Can you believe it?  They claimed that they didn’t have the right tools!!!!!  What kind of boss sends men out on a job without the right tools? Why didn’t someone go back to base and GET the right tools?

John contacted our insurance company yesterday and is now starting the official complaints procedure.  We are both dumbfounded by the complete and utter chaos we have encountered on this job:

  • There has been a total lack of customer service. Just a daily reassuring phone call with explanations would have helped, but this was NOT FORTHCOMING. We have had to phone them every day to find out why the problem was still on-going.
  • The procedure for contacting Severn Trent leaves a lot to be desired.  You are put on hold and forced to listen to very irritating, tension building music while you wait for someone to answer.  When they do answer you get platitudes and false sounding apologies, but no positive action.
  • The sewage sub-contractor, Amey, seems even more incompetent. Wrong tools for the job, no sense of urgency, no customer information on progress,  excuses, suspension of jobs because of the end of a shift, the list goes on!

This is, by far, the worst service we have had from any company since we returned to the UK in 2005.  I’m totally sickened and disgusted.

Raw Sewage in our Garden!

On May 25th, John noticed sewage bubbling up from one of our outside drains.  We were just about to leave on a trip so I made an appointment with British Gas Home Care for the following morning, and asked our good friend Pam to wait in for them.  She very kindly agreed and Dyno-Rod (subcontractors to Home Care) showed up as promised early next day (May 26th).

Dyno-Rod cleared out our drains but realised that there was a blockage in the main sewer, so they called Severn Trent (our water and sewage company).  Pam heard the conversation where Dyno-Rod explained the situation to the Severn Trent people over the phone.  Dyno-Rod told Pam that Severn Trent would be out to fix the problem.  Everything seemed to be under control.

On Sunday (May 27th) there were strong thunderstorms over Church Stretton.

On Monday (May 28th) Pam came to our house to check if everything was OK.  It wasn’t.  More water had come down the sewer, a manhole had been lifted and sewage had flooded out into our garden.  She immediately called Home Care again and arranged for another visit from Dyno-Rod for the following day.

We cut our visit to London short and caught an earlier train back to Church Stretton on Tuesday (May 29th).  We arrived back while Dyno-Rod were still working.  Again they called Severn Trent, who claimed they had not received the call on May 26th and therefore had no record of this case. This time, we were assured of a quick visit and given a case number.

Severn Trent/Amey came quickly that afternoon and ascertained that the blockage was indeed off our property and in their sewers.  They said they didn’t have the correct piece of equipment to reach the blockage, but that a larger vehicle would be dispatched to take care of it as soon as possible. They also said that the sewage was draining slowly, and the water level did seem to be going down in the drain, so it was OK to use the toilet and continue with domestic water use.

That evening we had more thunderstorms and the manhole was lifted again.  This time the sewage filled the flower beds and flooded onto the lawn.  Since then there has been a continuous flow of sewage out of one of our drains.  It’s worse at times when our neighbours are taking showers, etc., but it never stops completely.

Some of this sewage got under the house and there is a bad smell indoors.

It is now six days since Severn Trent visited and 10 days since the problem started and there is still raw sewage flowing out of our drains, across the patio and over the garden.  The video shows the extent of the problem.

On the 30th we phoned Severn Trent for a progress report.  They contacted Amey who said that the job had been suspended at the “end of the shift”. We were promised that it would be done “today”.  We were also told that they had to work at night because they were accessing the sewer from a busy road.

The road in question is Shrewsbury Road in Church Stretton.  It is a B road. Other utilities are able to access it in the middle of the day, why can’t the water/sewer people do the same?

Since then we have gone to bed each night hoping for a solution. But we have woken each morning to find that nothing has been done. Every morning we’ve called Severn Trent or Amey for a progress report.  Every time we have been assured that “it will be done today”.

But it hasn’t been done and we’re running out of patience. Nothing has happened for over 5 days.  No-one phoned with an explanation, an apology or even an excuse.  We had to phone up each day to get yet another stonewalling “I’m really sorry for your situation, but it’s been scheduled for tonight and I’m sure they will come out this time”.

We can’t ask the many neighbours whose sewage comes through our garden to stop using the toilet, stop taking showers, stop doing dishes and washing, can we?  Meanwhile, their effluent is polluting our property and causing a potential health hazard.

Today (June 4th) I was put through to Lauren in the Severn Trent Escalation Team who has promised yet again to get something done today.  We’ll see.