12 NOV 2014

Helen Grant brokers breakthrough deal with Southern Water

30 year sewage stalemate to end alongside strategic review for future development

Helen Grant, MP for Maidstone and the Weald, organised and chaired a roundtable meeting of parish, borough and county councillors, affected residents, Southern Water's Chief Executive, their Director of Infrastructure and their Infrastructure Planning Manager for Kent, at her office in Maidstone on Wednesday. Full list of attendees below.

Helen convened the meeting to seek solutions to the longstanding problem of surface water ingress to sewage systems which causes pumps to become overloaded and raw sewage to emerge into residents' gardens in Marden and Staplehurst, among other locations across the Weald

The meeting also gave all parties the opportunity to discuss proposed new developments and their impact on existing drainage infrastructure.

As a result of the meeting, Southern Water have agreed to undertake the following action points going forward:

1. Seal existing manholes where possible to prevent surface water ingress - Completed

2. Improve resilience and reliability of pumping stations with new pumps capable of handling greater capacity of sewage and detritus

3. Southern Water will continue to contribute to the development of Kent County Council's Surface Water Management Plan for the area with key stakeholders

4. Southern Water's Infrastructure Planning Manager for Kent to act as a Community Liaison with Parish Councils

5. A Strategic Review to be undertaken by Southern Water's Director of Infrastructure and presented to Helen Grant MP before Christmas

6. A meeting to be convened between Helen Grant MP and Southern Water Chief Executive Matthew Wright to progress any actions arising from Strategic Review

7. To facilitate a closer relationship between Southern Water and Maidstone Borough Council in respect to the drainage demands of forthcoming housing developments

Speaking after the meeting, Helen said:

'I convened this meeting to solve this long-standing sewage problem once and for all.

'I am very pleased to have agreed a clear plan of action going forward, following a positive and constructive meeting with Southern Water

'I would like to pay tribute to all the affected residents and councillors who have worked so tirelessly on this issue.

'I look forward receiving Southern Water's Strategic Review and making swift progress on our action plan"

Southern Water Chief Executive, Matthew Wright, said:

"We welcomed the opportunity to update the group on work we have carried out to seal manholes in the area to reduce infiltration of the sewer system and to improve the resilience of Marden Pumping Station.

"It is vital however, that we work collaboratively with Kent Council Council, the Lead Flood Authority, and other key agencies to develop a Surface Water Management Plan that will reduce the amount of surface water entering our sewers and significantly improve the situation for our customers in the area. We are committed to playing a key role in developing and delivering this and to keeping the local community updated about our work."

Concerned Staplehurst resident, Louise Brice, added:

"This is a toxic issue for residents who I have spoken to, especially those in the Marden and Cranbrook Road areas, who have campaigned long and hard to see improvements. Its fantastic to hear that their hard work may finally be rewarded with double the number of pumps being installed and resolve this long running blight on their lives. Thank you to Helen for bringing all parties together, to help highlight for Southern Water the priority that this issue deserves."

Helen Grant brokers breakthrough deal with Southern Water

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