Frustration as councils pass buck over burst water main

Jon Watson, lead co-ordinator of the Bowthorpe Neighbourhood Watch Team.

Jon Watson, lead co-ordinator of the Bowthorpe Neighbourhood Watch Team. - Credit: Jon Watson

A community leader says councils are too keen to not take responsibility for repairs after he was caught in a back and forth saga to get a burst water main fixed.

Jon Watson, lead co-ordinator of the Bowthorpe Neighbourhood Watch Team, was first alerted to the leak in woodland off Clover Hill Road in Bowthorpe on Thursday, April 22, by a resident and the problem was fixed by Anglian Water on Tuesday, April 28.

The two trees in woodland next to Clover Hill Road and Dereham Road which were removed to fix a burst water main.

The two trees in woodland next to Clover Hill Road and Dereham Road which were removed for Anglian Water engineers to fix a burst water main. - Credit: Jon Watson

Two trees had to be removed from the area by Norwich City Council for engineers to sort the problem, one of which was leaning towards the Bowthorpe-bound Dereham Road dual carriageway and could have caused a safety problem for drivers, according to Mr Watson.

He added that water was running onto one lane of the road by Sunday, causing drivers to swerve, and he and Anglian Water had to "badger" the county council and city council to take responsibility for the trees.

The water leak from the burst pipe in woodland off Clover Hill Road running onto Dereham Road, Norwich.

The water leak from the burst pipe in woodland off Clover Hill Road running onto Dereham Road, Norwich. - Credit: Jon Watson

The 35-year-old, who lives in the Clover Hill area, said: "I initially rang Norwich City Council but they said they did not do tree removal services at the weekend.


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"The damage was quite bad. It flooded the entire footpath."

Anglian Water engineers predicted the pipe was losing 12 litres a minute, according to Mr Watson.

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He said he rang the city council again on Monday but was told the trees belonged to the county council.

However after speaking to the county council, he was told the trees were the responsibility of the city council. 

"I kept pushing and the county council said it was trying to get someone to look at them but no-one did anything," said Mr Watson.

"It was silly because it probably ended up with the council paying more money because they had to get someone out in the evening rather than in office hours.

"The issue is no-one wanted to do it. We have got too much of an, 'It's not my problem' situation.

"We need a single point of contact for people to call so something like this can be dealt with."

Contractors felling two trees off Dereham Road in Bowthorpe on Monday, April 26, 2021.

Contractors felling two trees off Dereham Road in Bowthorpe on Monday, April 26, 2021, so Anglian Water engineers could fix a burst water pipe. - Credit: Jon Watson

He suggested the city and county council should work together to get problems like the trees on Clover Hill Road sorted and then worry about who pays for it later.

Mr Watson, who runs an IT company, praised Anglian Water for its work.

A city council spokesperson said the county council was the point of contact for the issue so a comment would be needed from the authority, which has been approached and has not yet responded.

An Anglian Water spokesperson said: "Our teams recently completed repairs to a burst water main off Clover Hill Road, Bowthorpe, which required a complex tree removal process from Norwich City Council. We would like to thank local authorities for their assistance in returning things to normal."

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