The closure of West Street in Farnham for water main laying took place on Monday. In my naivety I expected South East Water to mobilise an army of labourers and mechanical excavators to expedite work and reduce the inconvenience to the town.
How wrong I was.
What actually happened last week, apart from the complete road closure with concrete barriers and steel fencing, a welfare cabin and other paraphernalia was placed on the road and two small holes by the northside kerb were dug.
That was it.
With nothing to do, the archaeologist sat in his van reading a novel and the only operative on site said he was awaiting further instructions.
So for the whole week of road closure, just two holes were dug – five days’ work – Monday through to Friday. No work Saturday or Sunday.
What South East Water don’t seem to realise is the effect their approach is having on businesses and inconveniencing residents and visitors to this side of Farnham.
The loss of business for West Street News, the convenience store that has for many years served the community so well, is very serious and I understand no compensation is being offered, despite the complete loss of passing trade.
It was so bad during the week that the owner Anand Patel had to give away perishable food he couldn’t sell.
Talking to a Clancy Docwra road worker on Monday, he was frustrated by not being able to get on with the job as there appears to be uncertainty about the location of a suitable water main in the road.
As a casual observer, it seems South East Water haven’t undertaken adequate scoping work with trial holes to ascertain what goes where, prior to mobilising on site.
To minimise further inconvenience, South East Water could install traffic lights and keep one lane of West Street open, when possible, and offer compensation to the businesses in West Street that are adversely affected.
I invite South East water to reply to this letter and explain what they are doing and how they plan to gear up and get moving with laying the water main.
And please support West Street businesses – they really need us!
Councillor George Hesse (Farnham Residents, Farnham Castle)
West Street, Farnham