Sunday, 27 October 2013

We Apologise For The Inconvenience

Five days ago I was alerted by a blog reader and resident of Oaks Avenue, that he’d noticed a rapid drop off in progress of the gas pipe replacement work along the road. He said:
“It looked like contractors were simply half-heartedly digging holes, with dubious intentions of refilling them. However, one of my neighbours (who is currently unable to utilise their drive and having to park in the street) finally lost patience after seeing zero progress outside their home for days and demanded to know why a hole has simply been dug and left at the base of their driveway. Eventually, he was informed that the contractor has in fact lost their contract and has ceased to engage. As a result, the top-half of Oaks Avenue appears to be a series of abandoned craters and the bottom half is, as yet, untouched."
A couple of days later he had heard that the contractor hasn’t lost their contract, but was owed a lot of money by the gas company and as a result, the contractor had refused to continue until the back payments that were owed  had been made.

With such rumours flying about I felt I had better ask the people concerned. Central to all this are of course the people living on the roads where this was going on (or failing to do so.)

The email I have had back from Tony Hollis who runs things from the SGN side that unfortunately the company that was contracted to do the work, Utility Services West Midlands (USWM) had decided to pull out of the contract at extremely short notice, adding that:
"The reasons for this pull out I'm not fully sure of, that is above my station.
This has put SGN in a difficult situation and we have spent the last week sourcing a new company to carry on with the work in the Worcester Park area.
That has been a difficult task for many reasons but we think a solution has been arrived at and the residents of Oaks Ave will be lettered a soon as possible to advise them of the situation and a re-planned date for the continuation of the work. All the other roads on the Tudor Ave project will also receive similar letters."
Sean Jordan who has been running things on site told me a couple of days ago that Surrey Utilities Ltd was taking over and that he and most of his men (25-30 of them) would be employed by them to finish the job. He said that USWM, being a company based in the Midlands had wanted to focus on work closer to home and that there hadn’t been any financial issues. He was keen to praise USWM and also keen to praise the new company, Surrey Utilities saying that he (Sean) would have direct control not only over the pipe replacement work but also the backfilling and reinstatement of each hole as well. He believes that they would be able to coordinate work more effectively and get things done at least 20% faster now.

He said they had lost about a week and half trying to sort out the admin of the new company taking over but that he believed they would be able to make up the time as the work continued. They have since been working in London Road with three way traffic lights (I had wondered where Worcester Park's dedicated set had got to) and the fact they have been out working in Oaks Avenue today (Sunday), even in the dark suggests that they are indeed dedicated to getting the job finished and minimizing any further disruption to residents.

Sean asked me to convey his personal apologies to all local residents for the disruption and lack of progress over the past week or so.

Lincoln Road

Readers may have noticed that Lincoln Road is scheduled to be dug up again. Having asked Tony Hollis about this as well he replied that:
"Unfortunately the re-instatement that USWM carried out was sub standard by both SGN's standards and those of Sutton Borough Council. We therefore have to remove the poor work and re-do the concreting hence the reason for the advance warning signs."
However Sean added that the reason for the problem was that unexpected rain had damaged the newly laid concrete so that it needed to be done again.