Henlow resident demands answers as Anglian Water prepares to dig up driveways

The work will take place for around ten weeks in November - "one of the coldest, wettest months of the year"

Thursday, 27th May 2021, 1:12 pm
Updated Thursday, 27th May 2021, 1:14 pm

A frustrated Henlow resident is questioning why Anglian Water is digging up their driveways to install new vacuum pots.

Lesley Cordell, who lives on Hitchin Road, is upset that the company plans to dig up front drives on the street for around ten weeks in November - meaning families will have to use planks to get on and off their properties.

The homes are currently connected to a sewer pipe via vacuum pots that sit in the roadway alongside the pipe.

Lesley's driveway and an Anglian Water manhole cover.

But Anglian Water says new regulations means the pots must be installed on the driveways, instead of being replaced in their current locations.

Villager Lesley Cordell, said: "We are assured that - once the new pots have been placed under our driveways - only two maintenance visits a year will be required. We don’t believe this to be true. If Anglian Water were confident that the new vacuum pots will work more satisfactorily than the old then they would place them in the road. Wouldn’t they? Why haven’t the old pots ever worked properly?"

She claimed that the villagers were contacted about the work earlier this year with no public consultation, and that they are also concerned about the road closure that will be enforced.

And she said families had experienced problems with sewage for many years, with the latest incident forming part of a long list of complaints. This included "lengthy waiting times" when contacting the company.

Lesley: "The driveway was paved two years ago with pavers. As you can see its perfect and cost 7k."

Lesley said: "30 years ago these houses had cesspits, which the residents were content with. At Anglia Water's behest these properties were connected to a spur of the main sewer.

"We are connected to the sewer pipe via a vacuum pot that sits in the roadway alongside the sewerage-pipe, and the connection has never worked satisfactorily, necessitating frequent visits by sludge vacuuming machines and maintenance crews.

"For 30 years these residents have had raw sewage backing up into their properties at intervals with the associated problems of not being able to flush their toilets. In recent times these blockages have become more frequent."

Anglian Water said the work was to help prevent future flooding.: “In order to help prevent future flooding, our teams are currently undertaking survey work on Hitchin Road, Henlow ahead of the relocation of local vacuum chambers later this year. Due to the flat landscape of the area, vacuum chambers are required to pump wastewater away from customer properties into the main sewer network."

They said the new chambers will need to be installed within a number of customer driveways to comply with HSE regulations, which dictate they can no longer be installed under a carriageway.

The spokesperson added: “In addition, we will also be installing new storage pipes on Clifton Road as well as a second booster pump to ensure we maintain pressure in the network.

“We will continue to engage local residents and ensure that access to properties will be maintained at all times. We would like to apologise in advance for any inconvenience this may cause, and would like to thank customers for their understanding and patience while we complete our forthcoming investigation work.”