Letters: The floods!

A fisherman throwing himself into the task at the Heath last week

A fisherman throwing himself into the task at the Heath last week - Credit: Ron Vester

The high seas of north London

David Reed, Eton Avenue, Hampstead, writes:

I didn’t see any avocados flying, but I felt as though I was on a racing yacht, as the bow waves created by the 210 bus I was on in the storm last week were up over the windows (Camden recovers from flash floods that saw avocados flying).

But the area your front cover showed is just down from the Hampstead Heath dams which were recently strengthened, amid great opposition, so I hope some of those protesting can imagine what it could have been like if the dams had burst their banks as well.

Gardens underwater in Goldhurst Terrace, South Hampstead, after flash flooding

Gardens underwater in Goldhurst Terrace, South Hampstead, after flash flooding - Credit: @lunanana___

Many of the problems were caused by blocked drains, so it is good that Thames Water was mentioned in your article: they have been in charge of our sewage and drainage systems since the Tories privatised our water companies (and gas, and electricity, and railways, and...). Their subsequent neglect of drains has, I believe, led to many problems, such as the infamous “fatbergs” of recent years; uncannily this is a new word coined to describe the problem which has only happened since the system was privatised... nothing to do with low maintenance, I am sure they will tell us.

Both ends of the Bishop's Avenue - 'Millionaire's Row' - were flooded

Both ends of the Bishop's Avenue - 'Millionaire's Row' - were flooded - Credit: Tom Houston

But if those affected by the floods want to take their complaints further, they should go to Kemble Water Holdings Ltd of Reading, who have been running Thames Water since 2006. The public company was sold to German utility company RWE in 2001, which later sold it on after complaints mounted about their failure to deal with leaks in the systems. I’d like to blame the Tories for this stupidity, but Tony Blair’s New Labour government was supposed to be in charge by then.

I digress! Kemble is at: Kemble Water Holdings Ltd, Clearwater Court, Vastern Road, Reading, Berkshire, RG1 8DB. Currently, Wikipedia tells me, the largest shareholders are Canadian pensions group OMERS (23%), [9] BT Pension Scheme (13%), [10] the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (9.9%), [11] the China Investment Corporation (8.7%), [12] and the Kuwait Investment Authority (8.5%).

Isn’t it nice to have governments boasting about taking back control!? I wonder when it will happen!

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Kemble currently has 15 active, and no-doubt highly paid, directors to keep happy, as well as that list of greedy shareholders, replacing a bunch of closely regulated civil servants, undoubtedly costing much less and, apparently, doing a better job.

And half or more of you people out there still vote for the Tories, so it’s your fault really!

Good work?

Anna Farlow, Lyndale Avenue, Hampstead, writes:

Apparently flash flooding has never happened before.

So what the hell was all that upheaval creating flood defences on the Heath about? My garden has flooded twice in the past 50-years during summer storms but did not succumb to this one.   
Perhaps I am the only person to have benefited from the City of London’s work?

I can’t wait to hear their expert opinion on this.

You can help

'Engine-deep' flooding visible from Roger Gulhane's car in South End Green

'Engine-deep' flooding visible from Roger Gulhane's car in South End Green - Credit: Roger Gulhane

Cllrs Nafsika Butler-Thalassis, Maida Vale and Geoff Barraclough, Maida Vale, (both Lab) write:

Over 100 basement flats in North Westminster were flooded on Monday, July 12 as torrential rain overwhelmed Thames Water’s drainage systems. Water rose up to three feet deep in many peoples’ homes within minutes. The water was heavily polluted with sewage and everything it touched – bedding, furniture, white goods etc – has to be thrown away. 

These are not luxury flats. Most of the affected families are social tenants on Kilburn Park Road and Shirland Road and many cannot afford insurance. Many are older or vulnerable residents who don’t have the capacity to deal with this level of devastation. 

While we wait for answers from Thames Water about what went wrong that evening, we are working with One Westminster, a local charity, to raise money to support local families affected. 

The crowdfunding link is here.

All monies will be used to support to residents in replacing items or costs incurred due to the floods.   

Please give generously if you can.

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