I have had the first round of responses to my follow up after the BGR meeting on 28th November last, and wanted to inform you of these, and the next steps that I suggest.
Surveys- to ascertain which LT solution would be served and based on physical feasibility, practicality and financial cost – either a total upgrade or a completely new non- vacuum system- projected assessment and implementation minimum 2 years.
Southern had agreed that this was to be the way forward and I received the following Email response to the issue.
“The newly-appointed project manager is now working with a design engineer to get the scoping process, looking at all the possible options, fully up and running. This includes getting survey work carried out as soon as possible and ascertaining if the scoping process can be completed in less time than the 1 year currently estimated. Clearly, this is a very detailed piece of work and we will come back to you with a further update before Xmas.”
Southern are now fully aware that 2 years is too long a timeframe, and I will work to ensure this is scaled back
Interim Solutions – dedicated team on site
“We are finalising the details for this to get the on site team in place asap. Essentially, they will make sure that the system is working as effectively as possible by monitoring it, maintaining it and resolving any issues which arise as quickly as possible. This will help deliver a better service to customers and also help reduce the need to use tanker lorries. By looking after the system during the day, the risk of problems occurring overnight will be reduced, with the current Overnight team on hand to respond should they be needed.”
Southern Water wil be in touch as soon as they know when this is due to commence.
“The on site cover will be piloted on a 7 days a week, 9 hours a day basis. This is a similar approach as we have used in Sussex where we have been dealing with a similar issue, so we believe it will help deliver an improved service to customers, both during the day and at night when our Overnight team can be called in. Of course, we will carefully monitor and review how this approach works at Bromley Green to ensure it is appropriate.
In terms of customers calling our Contact Centre, our agents answer calls as quickly as possible, although when call volumes are high (for example, during heavy rain) it can take longer for customers to get through. I am exploring whether a dedicated number can be set up for Bromley Green customers, but even this may not resolve things fully as agents may still not be able to answer that line if they are dealing with high volumes of calls coming in. The on site team’s work will help ensure the system is working as effectively as possible and this will help reduce the need for customers to call us.”
I have raised concerns at the length of time of the cover as I have been pushing for 24 hours. Southern maintain that based on the similar problems in Sussex, the daytime presence is able to prepare the Pumping Station and services to be less problematic at times when there is no cover.
What is important, is that Southern are using the on site presence over the Christmas period as a pilot scheme. It will be reviewd and amended if it does not work adequately and could be a permanent feature if it works.
I am also awaiting details of the Sussesx project and Southerns approach to it, so that we have this as a measurement and example.
The criteria that residents need to fulfil for the rebate of surface water costs, and the reimbursement programme, and timings for when these two initiatives will be rolled out.
“Our billing team finalising letters to go out to customers before Xmas. The rebates will depend on individual circumstances, but I will clarify the criteria for you. The detail of the proposed bill refunds I being worked through and we will share this with you when it is more developed – this may be early in the New Year.”
The reimbursement for surface water that I discussed in a call with Joel yesterday would be given to all those who currently have surface water that is being collected by the Southern system. This will be calculated by the rateable value of the property and is around £23 per year per property. The reimbursement will go back as far as 2002 and residents will need to demonstrate residency for the period reimbursed.
Southern have requested that tanker drivers exercise greater care when parking and have specifically requested them to avoid parking on pavements and verges. Drivers have also been spoken to regarding their approach when connecting to certain pods nand work has commenced on the pumping station to reduce the level of noise this makes.
There are still some smaller but important unfinished issues surrounding vents, and tanker noise, and I will let you know once I have any news on the progress of these points.
The next Steps.
The next steps should be to establish the Steering group. So I would ask all those who have not yet put themselves forward, and who would like to do so, to get in touch with me. The aim will be to establish a Committee of residents, myself and Damian Collins MP to steer progress, with the first full meeting in February.
In the meantime, I want to prepare a questionnaire and survey for all households in the road to complete about their individual issues, how the system works in different conditions, so that we can get a detailed account of where the problems are. I would urge ALL residents in the road to complete this, even if simply to state that they have no problems, as this will help us in defining the scope and nature of the challenge.
I would like to meet with the Bromley Green Road Residents association in January if it is possible to move this forward, and to iron out some of the smaller issues that Southern are working on.
With regard to KCC, I am currently liasing with them on a clear plan of all drainage areas and again I will keep ypu posted on this.