Call for speed on water payouts

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A tourism chief has expressed her relief and called for compensation levels to be decided quickly and fairly after the tap water crisis finally started to be resolved in Fylde.

Much of St Annes saw the boil water restriction which had applied since early last month lifted as of Tuesday evening – and residents and businesses in the rest of the borough hope they won’t be far behind.

It is a relief to know supplies are back to normal - it has caused a lot of inconvenience for people, although I have to say guests have been very understanding

More than 300,000 homes and businesses across Lancashire have been affected by the restriction imposed by United Utilities since August 6 after the cryptosporidium parasite contaminated water supplies.

But after the need to boil tap water was lifted for some homes last Thursday and more on Sunday, the first Fylde postcodes followed this week.

“It is a relief to know supplies are back to normal - it has caused a lot of inconvenience for people, although I have to say guests have been very understanding,” said Barbara Mackenzie, president of the Holiday Association of Lytham St Annes, who runs the eight-bedroom Anchorage Hotel in Orchard Road, St Annes.

“We have had to buy in a lot of bottled water and use a lot more electricity than we normally would so it will be interesting to see how the compensation which United Utilities have promised will be resolved.

“I have read that each individual case will be looked at but that could take a long time and I think it needed resolving quickly and as fairly as possible across the board.

“The situation could have been worse - I have only heard of the odd booking cancellation because of the water crisis - but it has happened at the busiest time of year and one factor which is difficult to quantify is the stress it has caused.

“We put notes in every room to remind guests not to use the tap water but there is always that worry that they might do it without thinking.

“It’s just a relief that it is finally over but I have to say United Utilities have been good in keeping people updated and I am glad it has taken time to resolve as it means we can be sure the water is absolutely clear of any problems.”

Meanwhile, St Annes Chamber of Trade chairman John Moxham said he hoped there would be a full explanation of what has caused the problem once the matter was finally resolved.

“It has gone on a long time but I think generally people have coped well and they will be pleased that the situation has been looked at thoroughly,” he said.

“I hope transparency will follow and we get to know exactly why this happened.”

Robert Silverwood, vice-chairman of the Lytham Business Group and proprietor of the town’s Lowther Cafe, where the boil water restriction still applied as the Express went to press, said:

“This has gone on for an outrageous amount of time but people generally have been very understanding and it hasn’t affected our business too much at all.

“We have boiled water and left it to cool and we have been able to serve customers as normal, but I do wonder about the people who might have been put off coming to the area by the situation.

“I was at a market in Cumbria a few days ago and I was talking to some people who said they were staying away from here until the water was clear, which was rather concerning.”

The boil water restriction still applied to many Fylde schools as they returned for the new academic year this week but United Utilities have been working with education authority Lancashire County Council to make sure there are adequate supplies of bottled water.

As Fylde’s biggest school, Lytham St Annes Technology and Performing Arts College, reopened for Year 7 and Year 12 students yesterday ahead of the whole school returning today, a notice on the website said: “We have put measures in place to ensure our catering runs smoothly and remains unaffected.

“The drinking fountains around school will be out of order for the foreseeable future and students must not drink the water from the taps. Please ensure your child brings their own water/water bottle to school. Water will be on sale as usual in the canteen. We will keep you updated as things proceed. Sorry for any inconvenience caused.”

Ribby With Wrea Endowed CE Primary School reopened for the new term yesterday and acting head teacher Sarah Robson was full of praise for United Utilities for the way supplies of bottled water for the 161 pupils had been handled.

“We took delivery of 1,800 bottles on Monday and I was very impressed by United Utilities’ efficiency,” she said.

“The liaison with us to arrange delivery was excellent and I also had a call on the first day of term to make sure everything was okay.

“We should have plenty for everyone – it is a week’s supply but hopefully the restriction on the taps might be lifted by then.”

As the ban was lifted for the majority of St Annes postcodes, United Utilities said: “We will continue our work to remove the bug from all parts of the Lancashire network and will lift the boil water notice in further areas as and when we are able to do so.

“We all want things back to normal as quickly as possible and we’re continuing to liaise closely with the Drinking Water Inspectorate and Public Health England to review the very latest test results.

“We will be compensating all homes and businesses who have been affected by the boil water advice notice, and once this advice is lifted in your area, we will contact customers direct about this.

“We are extremely grateful to all our customers for their continuing patience and cooperation during this time. We know how frustrating this has been and are working around the clock to get things back to normal.”