Sewer collapse threatens Christmas tradeBy Linda Fort
November 09, 2012
Another sewer has buckled in the town centre – just as disruptive work on the first massive collapse draws to a close.
Thames Water has apologised for the inconvenience the emergency repairs are bound to cause to Christmas shoppers.
But nearby traders fear the barriers around the works – set to last four months – will destroy their Christmas trade.
The partially collapsed sewer is under the pavement in Friar Street, under the pedestrian area close to St Laurence Church and the Town Hall.
Thames Water described it as “doubly disappointing” to have to do this work so soon after the conclusion of similar repairs under Blagrave Street, just yards away.
In fact the extensive roadworks are due to finish on Sunday and Blagrave Street reopen on Monday.
The work on the new collapse in Friar Street will involve building a new sewer pipe underneath the pedestrian area outside St Laurence Church.
Bob Collington, operations director, said: “We’re currently finishing work to repair a collapsed sewer in Blagrave Street and so had hoped to be clear of Reading town centre in time for Christmas.
“So it is doubly disappointing to discover this unrelated issue on a sewer just a few streets away.
“This is a very complex job as access to the sewer is beneath two water main pipes under Reading town centre. Our expert team will be moving these pipes under pressure to make sure that the water supply isn’t affected.
“We’re really sorry for the inconvenience and disruption this may cause to visitors and local businesses but this is a must-do job that cannot wait.
“We have to act quickly. If the sewer were to collapse further it could cause sewage to overflow on to the streets and into shops, which is something we cannot allow to happen.”
The work will be carried out by digging a five metre-deep shaft and moving a five-inch and a nine-inch water pipe to allow access to the sewer.
Thames Water will then lay around 20 metres of new sewer pipe in a tunnel under the paved area.
Hoardings have been put up in readiness for the work to begin and Thames Water expects the job to take up to four months.
Rod Davies, of Shakti in the Bristol and West Arcade, said: “Anyone walking along Blagrave Street or Friar Street will not be able to see us if they don’t already know we are here.
“We normally do three months’ trade in December but if people can’t see us they aren’t going to come in. I don’t see why they have to have these huge fences up round the work.”
Mr Davies questioned whether it was really an emergency, claiming the smell of sewage had been around from months.
He added: “I have just got all my stock in from Nepal but who is going to see it if they can’t see I’m here?”
In The Bag Shop, across from Shakti, Feisal Alami said: “We were told at first it would last four weeks, but now they say it is going to be four months, which is terrible for us.
“We can’t do business if no-one can see we are here.
“When this first started, they put up a mesh fence so at least people could see though it, but now these boards have gone up no-one can see the shop.”
Craig Rance of Thames Water added: “Our barriers are in place to keep the public safe while we’re tunnelling five metres below the ground.
“We’re very sorry for the inconvenience caused by this emergency work and will be putting up signs to let people know that shops are open as usual.”