Kensington & ChelseaNews

Water company boss apologises to Kensington and Chelsea residents over flooding handling

By Hannah Neary, Local Democracy Reporter

A water company boss has apologised to Kensington and Chelsea residents for the “unacceptable” way that flooding was handled in July this year.

George Mayhew, Thames Water’s corporate affairs and sustainability director, said there was more than a month’s worth of rainfall in just over an hour on July 12.

He said the drainage network performed as it was designed to but it was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of rain that day.

He continued: “We know these extreme storms are going to happen frequently, we need a Thames Water/council/highways network that can handle more extreme weather”.

Speaking at a meeting on Monday, October 12, Mr Mayhew apologised to Kensington and Chelsea residents for the “unacceptable” way in which Thames Water handled the incident on July 12.

He added: “We know a number of you tried to get through to Thames Water that evening and failed or those of you who did were hanging on the phones for way too long.

“For that I am sincerely sorry. We should have been way more responsive when you tried to get through to us.”

He said the company is retraining its staff in responding to calls.

One resident said her basement flat where she has lived for 40 years was completely destroyed by the flooding and she has had not heard from Thames Water at all since.

She added: “I’m in a state of absolute unease about when’s the next flood coming. We’ve done all we could and I’d love a couple of answers.”

She also said her flat flooded in 2007 and asked Thames Water to install Flooding Local Improvement Projects (FLIPs) at her property in 2008 but the request was rejected.

FLIPs are designed to stop sewers flowing into basements. Many properties that had them installed before the flooding in July suffered less damage than others.

Mr Mayhew said: “It’s ridiculous. You should have had a response a decade ago.”

Andrew Hagger, asset manager at Thames Water, said in 2008 the company planned to install either FLIPs or a tunnel system to protect properties at risk of flooding, but the tunnel scheme was never delivered.

He said: “We’re trying to rectify that situation by assessing the situation again.”

Mr Mayhew added that London needs to be better prepared for extreme weather as it is likely to suffer again from serious flooding.

He said flashflooding that destroyed homes across the city on July 12 and July 25 shows how authorities need to be better prepared.

Heavy rainfall on both days led to flooding which caused millions of pounds worth of damage to properties as filthy water and sewage seeped into homes.

Thames Water is conducting an independent review into what caused the flooding that will last six months.

Kensington and Chelsea council is also carrying out its own review into the flooding.

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