Wessex Water ‘Should Have Done Better’ – Councillor Reacts To Shaftesbury High Street Works

Shaftesbury’s newly laid High Street road surface will be ripped-up so a new water pipe can be laid.

Cllr Derek Beer expects the town centre works to continue until 13th February. “It’s really disappointing news, after all the work that went into the plan to make it work properly,” said Cllr Beer.

There have been several water main bursts during this week’s resurfacing. Cllr Beer has counted twelve. Wessex Water will now install a new main from the Town Hall to Muston’s Lane.

Rip it up and start again – the new surface will need to be relaid.

Derek says Wessex Water should have taken decisive action when the first burst occurred. “To come back on four consecutive days and dig a hole because there were more leaks was just barmy,” he said, adding that Wessex Water ‘could have done better’.

Wessex Water told Alfred: “We could not have foreseen third-party damage to our pipework, but this is an opportunity to work in partnership with the council by replacing the main while the road is closed and avoid having to dig it up once it is newly resurfaced.”

Cllr Beer said, “It sounds a little bit like covering their backsides too late.”

In our report, Shaftesbury Wines and Harold Opticians told Alfred how the extended works have affected their deliveries. A third trader, who didn’t want to be recorded, told us that reduced customer footfall had been harmful to their business.

The Water Industry Act 1991 allows businesses to claim compensation for ‘any loss caused or damage in the exercise of powers to close roads to undertake maintenance work.’ We shared that information with Wessex Water and they responded with: “We’ve got nothing to add to that advice (if applicable during lockdown), although it’s important to stress that access is being maintained for essential businesses.”

Wessex Water says access is being maintained for businesses.

Salisbury Street and Coppice Street works should end on Sunday. Metal fencing will be erected on the High Street to prevent pedestrians from walking into the roadworks area.

Alfred has heard from some two town centre residents who have not had bins emptied. Dorset Council was unable to offer any answers on Friday, but Derek hopes that refuse staff can agree to an accessible collection point where rubbish can be left for collection.