Complain and they may get it right!

This article was published in 2008, in Newsletter 79.

Before: all that was left was a narrow muddy strip next to fast traffic
Image as described adjacent

One evening in early May the busy cycle path in Trumpington was blocked by utility works, without any regard for pedestrians, cyclists or the disabled. As required by law, a contact telephone number was displayed, but the May Gurney line did not operate 24 hrs as required. As these were clearly works for Cambridge Water I rang their emergency number just to be told I should contact May Gurney.

The following day I persevered, and was eventually told there was a catalogue of errors:

  • It was agreed the works as left failed to meet the Code of Practice for Street Works (available on-line)
  • The phone line should have diverted to Cambridge Water
  • Cambridge Water should have been informed and have an emergency contact for those particular works.
After: removing the pile of spoil provides adequate space for all users
Image as described adjacent

It seems that the work was to install valves and monitoring equipment, and I’ve seen similar work elsewhere.

We can all benefit if leaks are easier to track and control, but those involved in such works, and their managers, should be trained to ensure that works do not endanger others. The Code of Practice “Safety at Street Works and Road Works” is available as a simple and easily understood booklet which all those responsible for such works should have read.

If you see such a lax attitude to the safety of others at such works, stop, take down the number that must be displayed and ring to complain. If enough people complain, the message may start to get through (if the message tape doesn’t fill up first).

Jim Chisholm