Severn Trent Water called “a joke”, “not fit for purpose” and accused of “profiteering” by a Derbyshire councillor

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A national water company has been called “a joke”, “not fit for purpose” and accused of “profiteering” by a Derbyshire councillor.

In a Derbyshire Dales District Council meeting this month, councillors took aim at Severn Trent Water over concerns relating to existing infrastructure – particularly in Matlock.

Cllr Gareth Gee said: “There are excessive housing developments but we need more housing and there is going to be more.

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“The fact is Severn Trent are just not fit for purpose, they’re a joke. They’re taking the money from people.

One of the previous work sites on Bakewell Road in September.One of the previous work sites on Bakewell Road in September.
One of the previous work sites on Bakewell Road in September.

“A new house gets built, you’ve got a bill on your doorstep straight away.

“The full council I think are united on this. It is a joke because I think the infrastructure needs improving – sewerage, drainage etc.

“Severn Trent are the ones that are profiteering out of this and they are a total not-fit-for-purpose organisation and I think we need to put pressure on them.”

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Meanwhile, Cllr Dermot Murphy said the council lacked a way to “challenge” Severn Trent on its existing infrastructure level and quality, and response to consultations for new housing and businesses, saying the authority needed to “pull them into account”.

He said he had previously tried to organise meetings with Severn Trent but they had failed to attend, with one cancelled five minutes before it was due to take place.

Cllr Martin Burfoot said he had contacted the firm over raw sewage “flowing” onto Bakewell Road in Matlock during the recent floods and had not yet received a response.

He too raised issues in Presentation Avenue, also in Matlock, where existing infrastructure was said not to be up to par.

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Cllr Steve Wain, Matlock’s flood warden, said leaking sewage in Presentation Avenue had led to a “public health incident” in July.

He said: “Premises in the area and in the lower catchment were flooded with combined surface water and human waste which was deposited into both public and private areas.

“This is abhorrent and unacceptable.

“Currently the foul waste from 300 homes is channelled through the affected network. These include properties on Bentley Close, Gritstone Road and Asker Lane.

“The waste flow is exacerbated by joining combined flows on Chesterfield Road and even further exacerbated by gradients on to Presentation Avenue.

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“I wish to bring to your attention the fact that the foul waste from an additional 78 houses proposed to be built adjacent to Gritstone Road are projected to flow through the infrastructure on Presentation Avenue.”

During the two sewer overflow incidents, on July 8 and 14, foul waste leaked into Presentation Sisters Care Home in Chesterfield Road, as reported by the Local Democracy Reporting Service in September.

This led to the cellar and boiler room being flooded with around a metre of water containing human waste and sanitary products.

Human waste was also strewn around the surrounding area as a result of the overloaded system, with young children reportedly being observed picking up the deposits believing it was mud.

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Research found a key pinch point in the system between the care home and St Joseph’s Voluntary Academy – which also sits a few streets away from Highfields School.

This pinch point is caused by the “slackening” of the sloping system, which relies on gravity, and becomes less steep in the problem spot, with a slight hump.

A Severn Trent Water spokesperson said: “We’re very sorry to hear about the effects of the heavy rain, as we know just how devastating any type of flooding can be. The issues experienced were a result of the exceptional levels of rainfall delivered by Storm Babet, which overloaded our network.

“Due to its location at the bottom of a valley, Matlock has a series of unique issues when it comes to managing extreme weather events.

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“We are delivering important improvements to the network in Matlock to ensure that the system can meet both future challenges such as these types of extreme weather events brought on by climate change, and a growing population.

“We are continuing to proactively manage our network in Matlock and are working with local stakeholders and multiple agencies – including the council and highways authority, and Environment Agency – to find a long-term solution to the issue of flooding in the town.”

The company said it was not a statutory consultee in the planning process and that developers and other applicants have automatic permission to connect to Severn Trent’s infrastructure.