Should Anglian Water compensate businesses in Hunstanton left without water for almost 12 hours..?

PUBLISHED: 11:23 08 June 2013 | UPDATED: 11:23 08 June 2013

A water main in Hunstanton burst, causing many homes and business to be without a water supply - Anglian Water workmen dig down to repair the burst water main. Picture: Matthew Usher.

A water main in Hunstanton burst, causing many homes and business to be without a water supply - Anglian Water workmen dig down to repair the burst water main. Picture: Matthew Usher.

© Archant Norfolk 2013

Residents and businesses have urged Anglian Water to splash out some cash after being told they will not receive a penny of compensation despite losing their supply for half a day.

"You’d think they might pay a little bit - perhaps not the full amount but a little bit to compensate us"

Sharon Gage, business owner

More than 4,000 properties in and around Hunstanton had no water when a main burst – forcing some businesses to close and miss out on badly-needed customer income.

But AW said it had met its requirement to fix the main within 48 hours and would not pay compensation.

Last night, angry business owners rounded on the company, urging it to have a change of heart – and pointing out how important every penny was during “difficult times”.

The decision by AW is in line with its customer charter, but pressure is building for it to make a “goodwill gesture” after the 12-hour drought on one of the hottest days of the year.

Sharon Gage, owner of The Coffee Pot, in Le Strange Terrace, Hunstanton, who lost all her lunchtime and afternoon trade, said: “You’d think they might pay a little bit – perhaps not the full amount but a little bit to compensate us. Times are difficult and we are all struggling, so something like this which is out of our control has a big effect. It was such a beautiful day and we lost a lot of trade.”

Ian Wallis, owner of the Pavilion Cafe and Ice Cream Parlour, in The Green, said: “We had plenty of tourists – but not enough water. Trading was difficult. Trade was down 50pc in the coffee shop as we had to close.”

Despite the problems, Mr Wallis managed to keep the ice cream parlour open by giving his sellers a bowl of water to wash their hands in.

He added that AW should also take into account the number of times it changed its expected finishing times for the work. Residents were first told the water would be back on by 3.30pm, which was later put back to 6pm and then 9pm before the taps finally came on from 10.45pm.

A spokesman for AW said: “The work took longer than we had initially anticipated and we are very sorry for that.

“We were able to complete the repair work quite quickly but, with such a large main, it takes

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time to build up pressure in the pipe following a burst.

“We have to take our time over this to make sure water quality isn’t affected and to minimise the risk of causing additional bursts and leaks while pressure builds. It was also important for us to flush out the system before we restored the supply to homes.”

Tamworth House Tea Rooms, also in The Green, said it lost a few hundred pounds in trade over the day, whereas Rachel Briscoe, manager at The Marine Hotel, said: “We lost a lot of custom. We had some people who were really angry but it wasn’t our fault.”

Members of staff had quickly filled up buckets with water when they heard about the burst, meaning they could carry on providing food and drinks until 7pm.

Mrs Briscoe said: “I’m very proud of the staff. It was very trying but everyone rallied round so we could keep going.”

Cafes, pubs and restaurants were not the only ones affected. A spokesman for Nightingale Lodge care home, in Austin Street, said the burst main caused “tremendous problems” for elderly residents.

“It was more of a problem for us because we have so many residents here,” the spokesman said. “Whereas in a residential property you’re catering for four people at the most, we’ve got seven staff and 24 residents. All our residents are very vulnerable.”

As soon as the water supply stopped, workers from the home went out to buy 51 litres of water, which they then boiled so they could give some residents a bath.

However some had to go without a wash and all had to make do soup and sandwiches for tea, leading to what Nightingale Lodge described as some “very unhappy residents”.

Anglian Water engineers continued to spend yesterday at the location of the burst pipe - in a field next to the King’s Lynn Road and Redgate Hill roundabout, on the A149 at Hunstanton - to make sure the water was flowing correctly.

Its main concern, a spokesman said, was ensuring the water was back up and running for the upcoming warm weekend, when thousands of tourists are expected to visit the seaside town to enjoy the weather.

“We know the sunshine will bring visitors to Hunstanton this weekend and our team worked through the night to ensure everything was back to normal for people to enjoy the seaside this weekend,” the spokesman said.

“We apologise for the inconvenience that we know a disruption like this will have caused and we would like to thank customers for their understanding and patience.

“Unfortunately with 40,000km of pipework in our region, it’s inevitable there will be issues we need to deal with on a daily basis. While we aim to minimise the affect these have on customers, we can’t always prevent disruptions to the water supply.”

The company said it expected the system to be operating as normal but encouraged customers with any concerns about their water supply to contact its customer service team on 08457 145 145.

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