Cllr Joe Carlebach: Don’t let Thames Water sink Olympia

joecarCllr Joe Carlebach writes

Regrettably in my experience Thames Water have a long history of mistreating customers, throwing their weight around and some might say with justification abusing their monopoly position.

The current Counters Creek proposals are true to form. They have spread fear, uncertainty and doubt into the hearts of our residents and throughout our communities.

In my ward in particular the two sites they have proposed at Olympia and on Gwender Road both appear to be poorly thought through and very damaging.

I have worked over many months with Olympia to make clear to Thames Water that if they progress with the Olympia site they will effectively ‘sink’ Olympia’s business.

The location they wanted is the main marshaling area for the setting up and breaking down of shows. Without this area Olympia is no longer viable as a business.

To be clear Olympia is a large employer and community partner in my ward and our Borough. It brings significant economic benefits for local businesses many of whom would close without it. It is, I understand, the largest single ratepayer in the Borough.

I urge the Council’s administration as a matter of urgency to meet with Olympia’s management to listen to their concerns.

The Gwender Road site is described in the consultation document as an “open space”. Those who know the site would call this at best disingenuous!

It is in fact a much loved and used local park. The plans we have seen, appear to call for the cutting down of a number of mature trees and will change the area irrevocably to the detriment of residents.

The interim traffic management plan fills local residents and businesses with complete horror as they will bring near grid lock to an already heavily congested road network particularly at the junction of North End Road and Talgarth Road.

No one denies the very real damage and distress caused by sewer flooding and resolving this must be a priority. However Thames Water have failed to make the case that what they are proposing will fix this issue.

I have repeatedly asked Thames Water to provide assurances that the implementation of this scheme will not displace existing subterranean streams running throughout the local area and cause further additional flooding misery. To date I have received no reply.

I hope on this issue we can have both parties working together. This is what residents are, and have been demanding.

I would like to thank Cllr Barlow for her constructive approach to this issue in our ward. Along with Cllr ffiske we have shown residents and Thames Water that we are all opposed to the current plans. I would also like to pay tribute to the sterling work done by Cllr Donovan in Addison Ward who I know has championed residents concerns on this issue for many months, long before many of us were involved.

Finally many of you will know what a helpful fellow I can be and I will venture some help and advice to the Council’s Labour leaders.  Companies are controlled by their Boards, and if they really want to amend this dreadful scheme they will need to engage with the Thames Water Board.

I have found some contacts there as a starting point.

Firstly there is Mr Ed Richards who serves as a non executive director. I am told he is well known in Labour Party circles and was in fact the senior media advisor to Tony Blair. I’m also told with his support his partner stood as the
Labour parliamentary candidate in May for Carmarthen West. Here is a great chance for the Labour council leadership to phone a friend on behalf of our residents.

Also serving on the Thames Water Board is Mr Ian Pearson. He was a Labour MP from 1994 to 2010 for Dudley West and subsequently Dudley South. Indeed he held ministerial office with his last role being Economic Secretary to the Treasury fro 2008 to 2010. Labour councillors could call Mr Pearson and stop him doing to the residents of this Borough what he did to the country!

To conclude Thames Water have been arrogant and unhelpful. They have brought distress and angst to our communities. They have failed to make their case. Join with us in sending a clear message to them. This scheme as it stands is unacceptable and not fit for purpose