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Weekly Edition - Publication date:- 2016-11-17

-en Southport & Mersey Reporter

Local News Report  - Mobile Page

 

Problems as the 'Gas Mains Replacement Programme' hits the Formby area

THE 'Gas Mains Replacement Programme' in the UK has been slowly replacing metal gas pipes, which are currently reaching the end of their useful life, after been in the ground for decades. Gas needs to travel through the high pressure transmission system, then through the medium and low pressure distribution networks to reach the consumer. This has resulted in a complex delivery system of pipes, if damage, can and often does result in major disruption to services.  Also the consequences of damage to pipelines can be catastrophic, resulting in damage to buildings, severe injury or even, in extreme cases, death. As the age of these pips get higher, so does the risk.

The UK's Gas distribution Networks (GDNs) have been, for some years, they have been working hard to replace this aging network of cast iron and ductile mains, especially those within 30 metres of buildings. In our area, we fall under the National Grid, who has more than 81399 miles of Gas Distribution Pipes, which we are told servers over 11 million homes and businesses in its networks and growing. Sadly this need to replace the network does come with associated problems. With so many homes and businesses being affected, it National Grid uses various ways to keep customers informed of the work. This should explain why it is being carrying out, when and where. It is often done via:- letters, leaflet distribution, drop in sessions within local communities, as well as using the local media, social media, Twitter and other forms of warnings, including signs that carry quick response codes for some projects.

As this work is nearing the penultimate stage in the work within Merseyside, Formby is now one of the areas seeing roads and pavements' being dug up, as the delivery process of this new pip network takes place within the area. Sadly this advanced warning about the work and the disruption it brings has not quite filtered through to all house holds, within the areas being worked on. This has lead to some local residents complaining. 1 local resident, Andy Johnson, said:- "I have no problem with the work being carried out, it is the fact I had no notification about it. I was told on the day and it left me no access to my drive. I carry expensive and heavy items to and from my workshop, which needs to be taken via my drive. For a few days I could not use it. This upset me as it affected my business. Where do I park my cars? What was more shocking was the fact the barriers where left in a dangerous manor. It has meant the road is both dangerous for disabled people and other vulnerable groups such as elderly people, children and those with push chairs. It was also dangerous not only for pedestrians, but also other road users, with hidden obstacles both sides of the road and barriers not properly erected." These questions where supported by other locals, but they did not want to be named or identified. All of them appreciated that the work had to be done, but all felt that it was not being handled in the correct way.

We contacted the contractor, a North West based firm, from Wigan, who have been subcontracted by the main contractor. The subcontractor's Managing Director told us that they only do the work laying the pipes and that both the traffic management and the letters are done by other contactors. He also apologised as he had not been aware of the issues and went as soon as he was told, in person, to see for himself. He also spoke to Mr Johnson in person.

After the meeting Mr Johnson told us that:- "I was extremely pleased by his professionalism and the fact he came to see me and the road! Both him and his workers are fantastic. I have no issues with them and yes this issue I have raised is a small issue, but it has major impact on people's lives. He understands this and agrees to what I have said. As a result he has made notes to help them try to prevent issues in future and will pass them on to the relevant people up the chain. He also helped us to sort out the access issues we had. We would like to thank him for his efforts. But we feel sorry he was the one who faced the questions. The fact is, it is the National Grid should have done better research to prevent issues like this happening. We only got a letter this week from them saying that work is due to take place, as the work was taking place! Oddly the roads on the signs and on my letter all have different dates on, plus the roads written on them are wrong! This was a confusing mess and I suggest residents in Formby, and the rest of the UK, take note! No access also means no access to your drive or pathway, so if you get a letter make a note to call the National Grid to check when the work is taking place. It might not be the time or dates stated! If you do not check, you could find your car stranded, or if disabled, you could also have other issues! As for the barriers, cones, signing, lighting and guarding are not his or his firms responsibility. But he also noted the issues we raised about them as well."

We have opted not to say who the firm is, as it was clear that they did their best to help and it was not the firms fault. We would also like to than them for keeping us informed.

We think the issue was partly coursed by confusion between:- "Altcar Road" who are due to have work carried out later in December and the road affected:- "Altcar Lane." Both of them in Formby and connected to each other.

We know that this work will be moving through out Formby, so as Mr Johnson says:- "take note" of the issues that have affected residents in Altcar Lane.

Also if you have any issues connected to this topic, please let us know via emailing us to:- News24@SouthportReporter.com. We will do our best to get the information for you, so you can sort it out.

Did you know that there are only 8 GDN's, throughout the British Isles which are owned by:- National Grid, Northern Gas Networks, SGN and Wales and West Utilities? Did you know that all 8 fall under the Energy Networks Association (ENA) who represents the 'wires and pipes' transmission and distribution network operators for gas and electricity in the UK and Ireland?

For information on safety requirements on street and road works, we have got a copy of the "Code of Practice" for you to read. It that was issued in October 2013, with the current rules and regulations on it. To read the pdf, please click on here or visit the Government website to get a copy.

 

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Southport Reporter (R) Bourder


  


 

 

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