London Road Gas Works - The Story So Far!

Gas Works on London Road – 27th November 2018  -  Status update – Joanne Sargant for Sawbridgeworth Town Council

Nobody was more alarmed than us to discover this morning that a crew turned up on London Road and set up traffic lights.  In order that the correct information is disseminated I have been in communication with the Gas team who have been sent to an emergency repair. Rather than everyone ‘guess’ what is going on I have informed the men that I will visit the site every couple of hours throughout the day to get an update.  The story so far is……… 9am this morning

Last week when UK Power Networks were busy (doing nothing most of the time) they discovered that they could smell gas.  They called the gas board out to investigate – the gentleman that came out is the same man that is now currently working on the gas leak. They advised UK Power Networks that there was a gas leak and their monitors were registering very high levels of gas leaking all along the footway – (the section from the entrance to BT travelling up towards the mini roundabouts)
The gas board were advised that they could not carry out any work whilst the UK Power Networks were on site.  The gas board therefore lifted a gas manhole to let the built-up gas release, raised a request to Herts County Council Highways department for a permit to carry out investigation and repair work.
UK Power Networks finally packed up on Saturday after extensive negotiation with myself about the complete and utter fiascos they had created over the 6 days.  
This morning Herts County Council Highways department issued the gas company a permit to start work on repairing the gas leak!
Second Visit to site at 12.30 – Luckily for me the Highways officer was on-site to inspect that the road had been set up correctly and the traffic management system was in place and working!! - despite the fact that the traffic was now backed up to Spellbrook, backed up to Harlow Mill and goodness only knows what was happening on roads elsewhere!

My questions to the HCC Officer were:

Q - Why have you allowed this to happen?

A – Well…… there is a gas leak and it need to be repaired, the permit was issued this morning!

Q – Who reported the gas leak? (I already knew the answer to this question!)

A – UK Power Networks, they discovered it last week (I think many of us already knew this)

Q – Why then, when the gentleman who is currently sitting in that van came out last week and confirmed that there was a major gas leak, did you not allow the gas board to carry out the essential work, whilst UK Power Networks had the traffic lights in place and were already causing disruption with their job?

A – The utility companies will not work together on the same job!

Q – Really? Are you kidding me?

A – This is true, they will not accept liability for each other’s work, there has to be a separate permit!

Q – So you are seriously telling me that you are going to allow these traffic lights to remain in place causing maximum disruption, not to mention that several businesses that are almost bankrupt because of the major disruption with utilities companies (2 weeks of Virgin Media at the roundabouts, 6 days of UK Power Networks and now this) and the fact that the Highways department have a complete disregard of the major impact that this has had on our town.

A – I am sorry, I do not know what to do or say! (in the meantime the gas men have confirmed that this is a 12” main gas main, and they are hoping that it is not going to be a complicated repair)

Q – Please can you ensure that when these gentlemen have finished their work for the day that these traffic lights are disabled and that this footpath is made good enough for pedestrians so that during rush hour this evening and tomorrow morning the traffic can flow freely.  We appreciate that you have to put this in place whilst the men are working, but there is no good reason that this traffic system has to be in place when the men are not working!

A – You have a very good point, I am going to make a telephone call and get the conditions of the permit changed.

Hallelujah – 4.15 today, Traffic lights tucked up for the night on the footway, traffic flowing freely. …….until tomorrow!