Agenda and draft minutes

Public surgery to be held 6-7pm, Burst Water Mains Scrutiny Commission - Tuesday 25 April 2017 7.00 pm

Venue: Karibu Education Centre, 7 Gresham Rd, London SW9 7PH

Contact: Gary O'Key, Lead Scrutiny Officer; Tel. 020 7926 2183; email 

No. Item


Welcome, Apologies for Absence and Declarations of Interest


    Councillor Jack Holborn, Commission Chair, welcomed attendees to the meeting and all present introduced themselves.


    There were no declarations of interest.



Commission Scope, Aims and Context pdf icon PDF 262 KB


    The report and scope were noted.


    Councillor Holborn introduced Councillor Richard Greening, Chair of the London Borough of Islington’s Policy & Performance Scrutiny Committee, who was leading the London-wide scrutiny process of which this commission meeting was a part. Councillor Greening explained that:


    • His committee instigated its scrutiny of the causes and effects of water main bursts following a major incident in Upper Street in December 2016 which occurred when a 36in trunk main burst. Many residents and businesses had been affected and were now going through the difficult process of attempting to recover their homes and businesses
    • The flood was preceded by a burst on the same main in 2005
    • The main had now been re-lined but there were questions over why this did not happen earlier given the history. This seemed to be a pattern across London and there were questions over how maintenance and investment in the network were prioritised
    • A meeting with the Greater London Assembly (GLA) Environment Committee was planned in June to bring together the findings of the various boroughs taking part in the scrutiny with that committee’s own investigations, with a view to producing a report with recommendations aimed at securing improvements
    • Lambeth’s experiences in relation to the Herne Hill flood in 2013 and repeated incidents at Leigham Vale could add value to the scrutiny process, particularly in relation to aftercare (such as clean-up operations, communication with affected parties, the circumstances surrounding goodwill payments and compensation, and the processing of insurance claims)



Reports from Thames Water pdf icon PDF 236 KB

    Additional documents:


    Councillor Holborn introduced Thames Water’s representatives and thanked them for their cooperation in producing a report for the commission and attending the meeting to answer questions.


    Nigel Dyer (Infrastructure Alliance Chief Executive Officer), Alex Nickson (Water Resources & Growth Lead), Hilary Murgatroyd (Communications), Sarah Hurcomb (South London General Manager), and Mark Mathews (Local and Regional Government Liaison Manager) introduced the agenda report and stated that:


    • Thames Water (TW) were grateful for the opportunity to participate in the meeting and would try to answer questions as openly and honestly as possible. They were happy to report back to the commission at a later date on any issues which could not be answered at the meeting
    • TW apologised sincerely for the disruption caused by the water main bursts. It was accepted that such incidents could be devastating to people’s lives and it was recognised that TW needed to do things differently
    • By way of an update on the situation with regards to Leigham Vale, two events had occurred in quick succession (on 15 October 2016 and 16 December 2016) and 25 properties had been affected, including six businesses. The pipe which burst was laid in 1880 and had a diameter of 21in. Re-lining works were being carried out but five homes were still unoccupied and it was important to understand why this was. 14 insurance claims were registered in relation to the October incident, with ten outstanding and a reserve of £300k held. The December incident gave rise to 41 claims, of which 31 remained open; in excess of £360k had already been paid and a further £630k reserve was held. TW were unable to give details of individual claims but would make general points with regards to the insurance situation. Where claims were yet to be settled, this could be because people hadn’t yet submitted a schedule of loss
    • Insurance claims in Islington were taking a similar amount of time to those in Leigham Vale but the incident was larger in scale with around 130 properties affected
    • The spate of bursts in late 2016 had had a significant impact on TW but also on the communities of London
    • TW were supportive of the joint scrutiny process and aimed to put things right going forward
    • The Trunk Mains Forensic Review (also referred to as the Cuttill report) was now published on the Thames Water website at . This was commissioned by TW’s current Chief Executive when he started in post and was conducted by an independent third party, Paul Cuttill OBE, in order to give TW an objective account of the issues and deficiencies
    • The remit of the forensic review was to assess four things: the cause of each of the major bursts which occurred in 2016 (including whether there was a common underlying cause); the impact of each burst (including who and what was affected, how badly, and what the costs were); the immediate response to the incidents; and whether it was necessary to change the network configuration to prevent further  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.