Lorry crash leaves res­i­dents with­out gas for a week

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS -

RES­I­DENTS of Pem­broke Road in Ruis­lip were left liv­ing off mi­crowave meals and us­ing friends’ show­ers to keep them­selves clean for seven days af­ter a de­liv­ery lorry crashed into a gas pipe.

Sarah Townsend woke up early on the morn­ing of Fri­day, Au­gust 31 to a “huge bang” and the pun­gent smell of gas leak­ing onto the res­i­den­tial street which is also home to a restau­rant and pub.

The 60-year-old is a full-time carer for hus­band Brian, 68, who suf­fers from heart fail­ure and rheuma­toid arthri­tis, and has pre­vi­ously suf­fered from sep­ti­caemia. He has al­ready en­dured two hos­pi­tal vis­its in the last seven months.

While go­ing with­out hot water and gas would be an in­con­ve­nience to any­one, not be­ing able to wash prop­erly and cook meals for a week was par­tic­u­larly strain­ing for the cou­ple who have lived in the street for 36 years.

But they weren’t the only ones who were af­fected.

Danielle Ram­say, 27, and her chil­dren, seven-year-old Ol­lie and fiveyear-old Mil­lie, had to rely on friends to take a hot shower.

Mrs Townsend claims she made sev­eral calls to Bri­tish Gas ‘ sub­con­tract­ing com­pa­nies - Cadent and tRIIO. How­ever, the prob­lem wasn’t fixed un­til last Fri­day - and only af­ter getwest­lon­don con­tacted the com­pa­nies for a state­ment.

A Bri­tish Gas spokesman said on Fri­day (Septem­ber 7) it was not re­spon­si­ble for fix­ing the prob­lem, but con­firmed that gas had been re­stored.

“At 8.30am last Fri­day (Au­gust 31) a lorry smashed into the wall and broke the gas pipe, it was mak­ing a de­liv­ery at the pub along the road,” Mrs Townsend ex­plained to getwest­lon­don last week.

“I was in bed and we heard a huge bang, it was like an ex­plo­sion, I ran down­stairs just with my py­ja­mas on.

“The gas was com­ing out, it smelt really bad and the driver of the lorry tried to hold it with a cloth.

“It has hap­pened be­fore when the gas pipe has been dented a bit, but this time it was com­pletely bro­ken - there was about a three-foot gap.”

What fol­lowed was seven days of re­peated calls to the gas com­pa­nies, nu­mer­ous ref­er­ence numbers and var­i­ous vis­its by en­gi­neers, all of which failed to fix the es­ca­lat­ing prob­lem, Mrs Townsend claimed.

“We have been boil­ing ket­tles, get­ting take­aways and mi­crowave meals - I’m the carer of my hus­band,” she told getwest­lon­don be­fore the prob­lem was fixed.

“We are three flats above a restau­rant but they still have gas be­cause they use a dif­fer­ent pipe.

“Next door have two young chil­dren and they’re hav­ing to go to their friends’ for show­ers.

“We have car­ers who come in to look af­ter Brian, they’re find­ing it dif­fi­cult - he has to be cleaned and mas­saged with cream, it’s all a big in­con­ve­nience.

“This is the 21st cen­tury, we want to have hot water. I usu­ally love mak­ing crum­bles and I had some ap­ples but I can’t make any­thing which can’t be mi­crowaved. It has been such an in­con­ve­nience.

“It’s not fair that we had to suf­fer when it isn’t our fault, no one seems to be help­ing us.

“We have been here for 36 years and this has been the worst case. Brian just wants a hot shower, why are we be­ing ig­nored?

“Brian wants to know why we aren’t be­ing looked af­ter.

“We think we should be compensated for the phone calls and cold food we are hav­ing to eat.”

The cou­ple weren’t the only ones un­able to have a hot shower and warm meal for a whole week.

Danielle Ram­say, 27, and her chil­dren, Ol­lie, 7, and Mil­lie, 5, were left eat­ing take­aways and vis­it­ing their friends to wash.

“We haven’t had ac­cess to hot water or gas for al­most a week, I’ve had to take Ol­lie and Mil­lie to their friends’,” she said, speak­ing be­fore the bro­ken pipe was re­paired.

“It’s been really in­con­ve­nient. We have been eat­ing take­aways and cold food which is cost­ing a lot and, although the kids don’t mind, it isn’t ideal and it isn’t healthy - I al­ways pre­fer to cook. “It’s a good job it’s not win­ter.” Last Thurs­day (Septem­ber 6) getwest­lon­don ap­proached Bri­tish Gas, Cadent and tRIIO for a state­ment.

Later that day the gas pipe was re­port­edly fixed and the fol­low­ing day (Fri­day, Septem­ber 7) hot water and gas were re­stored to the three af­fected flats.

A Bri­tish Gas spokesman said: “This is not a Bri­tish Gas is­sue, there­fore I am pro­vid­ing this in­for- ma­tion for back­ground only.

“A dam­aged gas pipe is a gas emer­gency and there­fore Cadent are re­quired to carry out the work.

“Our team have con­tacted them on Mrs Townsend’s be­half, af­ter which they at­tended the property and have now re­stored sup­ply.

“Un­for­tu­nately, our own records do not in­di­cate that we re­ceived any calls from Mrs Townsend. For th­ese rea­sons we would not pro­vide any com­pen­sa­tion.

“How­ever, as she has been a long­stand­ing cus­tomer of ours and clearly this has been an ex­tremely dif­fi­cult time for her, par­tic­u­larly due to her cir­cum­stances, we have of­fered a ges­ture of good­will.”

PHOTO: GRA­HAME LARTER

Sarah Townsend be­side the dam­aged gas pipe

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