South West Water to take over management of pumping station in stink row
COUNCIL bosses in Ivybridge have backed a plan by South West Water to take over the running of a private pumping station which is believed to be causing a long-term pong.
The decision came at the culmination of a public meeting – called for by fed-up residents and chaired by Gary Streeter, MP for Devon South West – which saw some people complain bitterly about the appalling stench they have to endure.
One resident repeated the claims of many, saying problems with the stench – which affects Keaton Road and surrounding streets – had been going on for around six years.
Bob Halls, aged 63, of Keaton Road, started a petition to get the problem dealt with. He went to great lengths to draw together representatives of South West Water and South Hams District Council – as well as assorted businessmen and women, residents and local councillors – for the public meeting held on Friday night at the Chapel Place community hall.
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He said the meeting had been "borne out of frustration" and he felt like "I've been doing everybody else's job" as he rounded on the district council and water company.
He insisted the meeting was "not a witchhunt" but hoped a positive plan would be found, adding: "Tonight we must make progress. It's not just the smell, it's the noxious chemicals which have catastrophic health implications."
Ian Bollans, head of environmental health at the council, said studies suggested there were two smells being noted by residents – one sweet and sickly and the other of rotten eggs. The latter was linked to a pumping station which fell under the ownership of a small development at nearby Orchard Park.
Dave Smith, publican at the Duke of Cornwall, supported Mr Halls' stance, saying people had complained for years to no avail, regularly pointing out to the council the prime culprit.
His words were also seized on by councillor Melvyn Vincent, who said he had repeatedly pointed out the sewerage issue at the planning stage of the Orchard Park properties and many other developments, but his observations had fallen on deaf ears.
Mayor Trevor Parsons demanded the council "serve notice" on the management company which owned the pumping station, to rectify the problem
Richard Gilpin, head of waste water services at South West Water, noted Mr Streeter's observation that the new coalition Government had brought in legislation which meant private water firms could apply to take over private sewers and pumping stations, but that was not to be fully completed until 2016.
However, Mr Gilpin he said regulators Ofwat had approved their fast-track approach to the owners to take over the running of the Orchard Park pumping station, with the hope that the owners would agree and also allow them access to carry out immediate work to clean it.
Mr Bollans said the council hoped the management firm which owned the pumping station were co-operative and compliant, but said the threat of enforcement notices would be employed if they were not.
Mr Streeter, along with the representatives, thanked Mr Halls for his dedication and said a meeting to review progress would be held in "the first week of September".
In closing, Mr Halls said: "We're only here because no-one thinks we [the residents] are worth communicating with."