Severn Trent promise action over sewage flooding in Slimbridge and Cambridge

First published in News Gazette Series: Photograph of the Author by , senior reporter covering Dursley, Cam, Wotton-under-Edge, Sharpness, Slimbridge, Berkeley, Coaley, Uley, North Nibley, Stinchcombe and Cambridge

ASSURANCES have been given to Slimbridge and Cambridge parishioners that action will be taken after years of problems with sewage flooding.

Representatives from Severn Trent faced a gruelling two hours at a public meeting on Monday, in front of over 100 people who have been left frustrated by years of poor responses from the company.

Network county sewage manager of Severn Trent, Craig Bayliss, attempted to lead with a presentation but was asked to stop within minutes and instead answer numerous questions from the public.

The answers were often disappointing to residents who had been complaining of faeces and foul water in their homes, gardens and streets since 2000.

Mr Bayliss admitted that they had not realised there was a problem until November 2011 and they only had details of four properties experiencing issues.

Slimbridge resident Mike Haynes, of St John’s Road, said at the meeting it was apparent that Severn Trent did not communicate with the public.

"It is quite evident that a large amount of information that has been sent has been lost by your system," he said.

"What you are demonstrating is that there is been no investment in this area for years."

Osman Goring, from Coaley, said: "You clearly do not have sufficient knowledge to answer people's questions today. For 50 years I have had to put up with the incompetence of Severn Trent. The directors of Severn Trent should be here tonight.

"I suggest you come to the next meeting to answer some questions. You should give the public the benefit of some common sense."

Severn Trent asset protection manager Lisa Russell agreed the company had not been looking at the problem and said it was on a larger scale then previously thought.

"We want to restore your faith in Severn Trent, it is an awful thing and we want to get to the bottom of it," she said.

"This information will allow us to make informed decisions about our future investment plans."

However Mr Bayliss admitted that because of their methodology, the next series of investment plans would not be drawn up for another two years, and could not agree Slimbridge would be part of those plans.

At this news a member of the public yelled: "Well why should we pay for this service then?"

Mr Bayliss did agree to carry out an inspection of the sewage system with CCTV cameras in the next month and hoped to get back to Slimbridge Parish Council within six months.

At the end of the meeting Severn Trent employees took residents' information and agreed to set up a form that people could use to report their complaints.

"We need to get the right information down on our system," said Mr Bayliss.

"We have clearly started a dialogue, our job is now to go away and start talking about it."

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