THAMES Water has apologised for the latest round of disruption to businesses on the High Street after a telecommunications company unavoidably hit the mains supply.

Coffee Zone outside Thornton Heath station and neighbouring businesses lost custom for over a week after the water company shut off the pavement and put up black plastic screens – so it looked as if shops were not accessible – to apparently block out the noise.

Initially, gallons of water poured over Brigstock Road for four days until engineers turned up and wedged a piece of wood in the hole stemming the flow but it took a further four days before it was finally fixed The work finished and road reopened on Friday (Dec 5), said Coffee Zone owner Azhar Mahmoud.

The installation of one way temporary lights on the section outside the station and Ambassador House caused chaos for days on end with angry scenes from confused motorists.

Mr Mahmoud said: “Some days they only worked couple of hours work and there was no sense of urgency to fix what appeared to be a serious leak.

“There was also concern about the lights system and traffic management took pictures and said it was not safe for the public.”

“It caused considerable inconvenience and loss of business which has been difficult when we have already been hard hit as a business by Covid restrictions.”

Thames Water says sporadic work is because engineers may need to move to other parts of the network, to turn valves on or off, or wait for parts to be delivered, so while it may appear at times that not much work is going on, it says it doesn’t simply abandon work sites. 

Thames Water says it does ‘everything it can’ to minimise disruption when emergency work takes place but realises that sometimes businesses may be unavoidably affected.

The latest incident happened because BT engineers unexpectedly hit the mains.The Chronicle understands that the pipe was inches rather than feet below the pavement but Thames Water said that the shallow location of the pipe underground is due to the nearby railway station and line.

Thames Water has been digging up Brigstock and neighbouring roads since February..

More recently there have been closures as a result of a collapsed sewer.

Thames Water said it was not aware of any wider scale issues in the area explaining that pipes can burst for a range of reasons, including temperature, ground conditions, ground movements or third party damage.

A Thames Water spokesman said: “We’re sorry for any disruption caused by a burst on a 15-inch diameter water pipe, which was damaged by a third party. 

“Tackling leaks and bursts is one of our top priorities and our engineers were quickly on the scene, working hard to control the flow of water and protect the supply to locals before starting a repair.

“This was a complex repair due to the proximity to a railway station, which required specialist equipment, and traffic management was put in place to protect our engineers and members of the public while this was carried out.”

*Thames Water have been digging up Brigstock Road over Christmas and New Year with delays caused by temporary lights.