SEE VIDEO: Baroness Shephard praises firm’s response to Swaffham water problem

Baroness Shephard chaired the public meeting at Swaffham Town Hall ANL-150519-200302009
Baroness Shephard chaired the public meeting at Swaffham Town Hall ANL-150519-200302009
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Water company bosses have today admitted that supply interruptions caused by burst mains in Swaffham are becoming more common - and they don’t yet know why.

But, during a public meeting held in the town hall this afternoon, Anglian Water officials have pledged to look into the issues, report back within six weeks and act upon their findings.

The town’s former MP Baroness Shephard, who chaired the discussion, said afterwards: “It could not have been more positive.”

The meeting, hosted by the town council, was called following repeated interruptions to water supplies in the town in recent years, including two in the last three months alone.

Baroness Shephard said supplies had been cut to her home eight times in the 10 years she has lived there.

And she told company executives: “I think you really have to realise that as many disruptions to water supplies as that is unacceptable.

“It is unreasonable to expect people to pay the full water rate if they have that number of interruptions.”

She said residents felt the solutions which had been offered so far had been “temporary” and could put businesses off investing in the area.

She added: “We do expect, like everyone else, to have a normal, constant service in this town.”

David Ward, Anglian Water’s head of networks, told the meeting that the overall rate of leakage in Swaffham was lower than the average in the region and across the company’s entire network.

But he conceded that incidents in which supplies were lost because of burst mains had become more frequent in the past two to three years, adding: “We need to understand that.”

He said an investigation of the town’s supply network was needed to find the underlying causes of the problems before any solutions could be implemented.

Four potential sites for main replacements have been identified in Watton Road, North Pickenham Road and Norwich Road, plus at the junction of Beachamwell Road and Cley Road.

But Mr Ward said the company would seek to reduce the burden on areas of high water pressure first and only replace mains if that could not be done.

He also warned that, if replacement mains were needed, it could be up to a year before work to install them is completed.

But he pledged: “There will definitely be work done. How much, where and what is what we need to report back on.”

Our video shows Baroness Shephard giving her thoughts on the meeting.