Local MPs and council leaders met Thames Water bosses today to press them for answers on their response to the burst water main in Finsbury Park that flooded 170 homes – leaving many uninhabitable.
Residents in the area, which covers both Hackney and Islington, were without power and water for hours after the incident on 8 October.
Hackney Mayor Philip Glanville wrote to Thames Water with stinging criticisms over its slow response, vague updates and the lack of bottled water for residents in the immediate aftermath.
He later wrote to them again to raise concerns over the uncertainty surrounding longer-term accommodation for displaced residents from 76 homes, and the amount of compensation they can expect to receive.
Today, Mayor Glanville was joined by politicians including local MP Diane Abbott and Labour leader and Islington North MP Jeremy Corbyn to grill Thames Water chairman Ian Marchant and other senior representatives of the firm face to face.
Mayor Glanville said: “While frontline Thames Water staff are working really hard to resolve the issues, its overall response, especially its communication with local people, hasn’t been good enough.
He added: “Today’s meeting was constructive, and I hope that our serious concerns about its response will be resolved so residents can get back to living normal lives as quickly as possible.
“Anyone with concerns can contact me directly and I will raise these urgently with Thames Water.”
Islington Council’s community safety chief Cllr Andy Hull, who was in attendance along with Hackney counterpart Cllr Caroline Selman, said: “It’s unacceptable that a burst water main has once again caused major disruption and chaos for many people in Islington.
“As a local resident affected by the loss of water, I know first-hand just how frustrating Thames Water’s poor response was for local people.”
He added: “We’ve been on Thames Water’s case since the devastating flood in Angel, but so far all we seem to be getting are warm words. It’s time they took decisive action to get their operation in order, so that they don’t let local people down again.”
Hackney North MP Diane Abbott described the meeting as “useful”, adding: “It will be important to get compensation levels right and get the money to residents swiftly. There are also long-term issues about maintenance which Thames Water will have to consider.”
Steve Spencer, Thames Water’s chief operating officer, said after the meeting: “We understand the devastation caused to residents affected by last week’s burst.
“Our main priority is to make sure their lives get back to normal as soon as possible. We’re keen to understand why this particular water pipe failed in the way it did and welcomed the opportunity to discuss what happened and to explain what we’re doing to put things right.
“We’re spending over £1 million a day on our underground network to help reduce leaks, which often lead to these bursts, and working tirelessly to improve our customer service.
“We’re also exploring all modern technology and techniques to gain tighter control of our ageing network to reduce the risk of disruption like this in the future.”
Anyone with outstanding questions about the flooding, including about insurance claims and how much they can claim for food and accommodation, should contact their Thames Water loss adjuster directly.
Alternatively, residents can contact Thames Water representatives who will be on-site until at least Friday 25 October.
If residents haven’t already reported damage, they can call Thames Water 24/7 on 0345 604 7057.