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Talks in pipeline to ‘fix’ city’s sewage network
OXFORD councillors will hold talks with Thames Water over the city’s flood-prone sewage network.
A group on Oxford City Council’s scrutiny committee has said it will be asking Thames Water exactly how it plans to upgrade the network which the water giant admits is struggling to cope.
In August last year, Thames Water – which wants to hike bills by eight per cent – admitted the network in Oxford was at bursting point.
And it has since raised concerns about important developments such as the 900-home Barton West scheme and the redevelopment of the Westgate Centre, claiming the existing infrastructure could not cope after their completion.
City councillor Roy Darke, who is a member of the group, said Thames Water needed to do more. He said: “Thames Water has agreed that there is an infrastructure problem and they own an antiquated system which is starting to creak.
“What we now want to do is to take that forward and ask Thames Water what their plans are to improve the network. If nothing is done, the system will only get more antiquated and it is well past its sell-by date already.
“We need to stop the abomination of flooding in the streets and in people’s houses and gardens.”
Northway resident Betty Fletcher said: “We get hit by flooding quite a lot and when we got hit last year it was sewage, which was absolutely appalling.
“They are spending all this money up in London and we are paying for it. “Thames Water has got to do something. It has got to stand up and be counted.”
Thames Water has already drawn up its draft business plan for 2015 to 2020, but the only reference to plans for Oxford are improving the city’s sewage works – with no detail on how it will be done.
However, in London the company is proposing a 25km tunnel running underneath the Thames which will store and transport raw sewage and rainwater that is currently overflowing.
The company had wanted to increase the cost of bills across the Thames Valley by an average of £100 to pay for this scheme and while this was rejected by Ofwat, Thames Water has said it will be appealing.
Thames Water spokesman Sarah Sharpe said: “Earlier this year, we consulted on our business plan for 2015-2020.
“We’re currently reviewing all feedback and will be submitting our final business plan to our regulator Ofwat in December.”
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