South Norwood high street suffers Thames Water torture

‘Improvements’ is Thames Water’s euphemism for delays, inconvenience and disruption

Long-suffering South Norwood residents have been having to deal with more traffic gridlock in and around the high street, after private utility giant Thames Water broke an undertaking to have a new leakage repaired within a week.

A water main burst at the crucial junction at the centre of South Norwood a week ago last Saturday, November 23 – noticed by Crystal Palace fans as they headed home from the 2-1 defeat to Liverpool. Thames Water moved in and dug a massive hole which blocked one lane of Portland Road, instantly causing long lines of traffic with one of their notorious three-way stop emergency traffic lights.

Thames Water also posted a notice saying that they expected to finish the work on Thursday November 28 – last Thursday.

Three-way traffic lights continue, but there was no emergency work going on in South Norwood on Saturday

But by Saturday, however, as our photographs show, the hole and emergency traffic lights were still in place – and with no prospect of the work being finished any time soon, as there was no “urgent” work being carried out, with the workers spending the weekend at home, presumably because Thames Water didn’t fancy paying any pre-Christmas overtime.

This latest debacle adds to the traffic woes caused by the seemingly unending saga of Blackhorse Lane, where the notorious bridge works have now been going on for more than three years – though a partial re-opening is expected soon.

South Norwood is also hit by repeated roadworks on Goathouse Bridge, which can cause jams as far back as Penge.

Thames Water has form so far as its public behaviour is concerned.

It has been criticised ­– in the words of none other than The Times – for its “opaque overseas ownership structure, huge dividends to foreign shareholders, excessive pay of executives, low taxation and scandals around human effluence in the Thames and leaking pipes”.

The hole in the high street was still there over the weekend, with no workers doing anything to fix things

The company has been hit with repeated penalties by the water regulator Ofwat, but never seems to amend its conduct.

Back in May, Steve Robertson, the company chief executive, was sacked, although he still managed to cling on to a £3.75million bonus awarded… wait for it… for fixing leaks!

Maybe that chunky bonus explains why there’s no weekend overtime pay available for the workforce to sort out the traffic chaos in South Norwood and to better serve the public and Thames Water’s long-suffering customers.

Ofwat recently instructed the water companies to cut customers’ bills and increase infrastructure investment – and was greeted with a chorus of protests by corporate fat-cats determined to hold on to their massive salaries and bonuses.

Thames Water has also been among those who have criticised the Labour Party’s plans to renationalise the utility companies – including water. Can’t think why…

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