Water firm defends response after burst leaves homes without gas in cold snap

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A water company blamed for leaving thousands of people without gas in freezing temperatures has defended its response, saying its priority is the huge effort to restore supplies.

Yorkshire Water’s director of water, Neil Dewis, was confronted by an angry resident as he joined other agencies’ representatives for a press conference in the Stannington area of Sheffield on Thursday afternoon.

Lyndsey Hudson said she found her house flooding at the weekend after a main burst, forcing huge amounts of water into the gas network.

Burst water main in Sheffield
Neil Dewis, Director of Water at Yorkshire Water, speaks to the media outside the Peacock Pub, in Stannington (Dave Higgens/PA).

Mrs Hudson told Mr Dewis that Cadent and the other agencies involved had provided “brilliant” help but Yorkshire Water had not listened to her pleas.

She said: “They have not been on the ground and they have not listened.

Burst water main in Sheffield
The gas pipe which was ruptured after the water main below burst on Friday night in Stannington, Sheffield, flooding the local gas network (Dave Higgens/PA)

She added: “You haven’t taken it seriously.”

Mr Dewis apologised and asked for Mrs Hudson’s details.

He was asked by reporters about residents’ complaints that there have been nine or 10 recent water main bursts in the area, which they feared was due to lack of investment in the system.

He said the reason for the burst and how it came to affect the gas main is still under investigation.

He told the press conference: “Our immediate priority is to support Cadent in getting everybody back on to gas supplies.

“We’ll then be working with Cadent on looking at the compensation for customers and any loss adjustment that needs to be made.

“The priority is getting customers on and to support the efforts that are going on the ground at the moment.

“It’s important to just get people back on.”

Richard Sansom, Cadent’s network director for East Midlands, said 1,080 customers still have no gas, though almost 700 have been reconnected during the week.

He said he is confident around 1,000 homes in the Stannington area will be reconnected by the weekend.

But he said the firm is still extracting a large amount of water from the network in the Malin Bridge and Hillsborough areas, and a small number of affected households in those parts of the city may not be reconnected as quickly.

Burst water main in Sheffield
Richard Sansom, Cadent’s East Midlands Network Director, speaks to the media outside the Peacock Pub, in Stannington, flanked by representatives from other agencies working to restore gas supplies (Dave Higgens/PA)

Ms Josephs urged people to report any concerns about neighbours.

She told the press conference:  “Do keep up that amazing community spirit we’ve seen which has been fabulous across Stannington and the area.

“Do let us know if you have any concerns or you haven’t had anyone knock on your door.”

On Wednesday, Sheffield Hallam’s Labour MP Olivia Blake raised the issue in the Commons, saying she was “yet to receive a response” to her letter to ministers asking for help with the incident.

Minister for Energy and Climate Graham Stuart said on Twitter: “I am grateful to everyone working hard to restore supplies across Sheffield.

“I recognise the challenges this places on consumers. Support is being provided to vulnerable customers at this difficult time.

“My team are keeping me updated on progress.”

Mr Stuart added: “I have just spoken to @CadentGasLtd this morning whose teams are working tirelessly to restore supplies across the Sheffield region.

“They have told me that 692 customers have been restored – but 808 are still disrupted”.

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