Report on gas works meeting – Tuesday 4 th September

A meeting about the current gas works was held at the Olive Garden restaurant on Replingham Road on 4 th September, starting at 9.15am. Around 20 business owners and residents were present.

Chaired by Gill Habershon, vice-chair of the Southfields Business Forum (SBF) guests were:

  • Tony Hollis- Project Manager, Southern Gas Networks (SGN)
  • Donal Macintyre – Project Manager, Forefront (the workforce there)
  • Stuart Porter – Engineering Manager, SE Major Works
  • Sunny Patel – Chair, SBF

The background to the works was explained by the panel. SGN were due to begin these works in October, but an emergency call reported by a member of the public smelling gas meant emergency work on Tuesday 28th August. There is daily liaison between the contractors SGN and the council on these works, pedestrian, and vehicle access etc., and changes were made throughout last week in the light of experience. There is a coordination meeting of all utilities, police and the council held every 3 months to discuss and coordinate all these works and the knock-on effects, going a long time into the future.

Project details are regularly updated at https://www.sgn.co.uk/Roadworks/Emergency-repairs

Main points raised from the floor were:

  • Concerns by businesses over deliveries with large lorries – e.g. Boots had no delivery last Wednesday, and Cook can only now get a delivery of 100 meals a day not 400
  • One of our local pharmacists reported that Boots were claiming they had lost 47 patients last week, as they were unable to park nearby
  • There is a compensation scheme in place for businesses which suffer a genuine loss of trade. Packs are available at https://www.sgn.co.uk/Publications/Customer-service
  • WPR – businesses have not been affected as much
  • Traffic on Pirbright Road – “the Replingham Road by-pass” – was brought up by several residents and calls for it to be made one-way for the duration of the works. The 2 schools on Pirbright Road are back soon, which will only increase traffic. Councillors present said they would take this back for consideration.
  • Standen Road – concerns over this street too, and seemingly little monitoring of the situation by the council
  • Council planning officers were not at the meeting – not good enough
  • Planned works on Augustus Road are in planned within the next year, and will be well publicised ahead of time
  • Overrunning – they are confident these works will be completed on time and are working on site 7 days a week to aim to finish by early October.

It was pointed out that it’s inevitable there is going to be disruption if you close such a critical road, but the works were always going to be done at some point. It is also difficult to legislate for stupid drivers, who drive too far and ignore signs, even being rude to long-standing residents.

SGN representatives will be at the next meeting of the Southfields Grid Residents Association on Tuesday 25th September at 6.45, to which everyone is welcome to attend.

The meeting closed at 10.20am.