London

Thames Water admits it is too slow to react to burst pipes

Three roads have been closed due to the flood Image copyright LFB
Image caption More than 100 people were forced to leave their homes due to the flooding in Angel

Thames Water has admitted it has been too slow to react to flooding caused by burst pipes in London.

The company's bosses told the London Assembly Environment Committee its response to flooding in December was "not adequate".

Many properties were evacuated after broken water mains flooded areas including Angel, Lewisham and Hackney.

The situation was described as "completely unacceptable" by the Labour group on the London Assembly.

Image copyright @Spen_Yates
Image caption Emergency services attended the scene in Stoke Newington

Hundreds of people were evacuated from their homes last month following a number of burst mains.

Thames Water's Danny Leamon told the committee it was aware of the Stoke Newington leak but it "didn't respond quickly enough to assess and resolve the situation".

He also confirmed the London Fire Brigade called it to alert them to the problems in Angel but the mains were not shut off for four hours.

The company's Richard Aylard said they were investing in devices that could provide warnings before bursts occurred.

'Clearly inadequate'

However, only one of the burst pipes last year had this in place and it provided a warning of just three minutes.

Leonie Cooper, Labour London Assembly spokesperson for the environment, said: "It is also completely unacceptable that Thames Water has no idea which of their pipes are most at risk of bursting in the future.

"The maintenance and risk assessment system is clearly inadequate and while I welcome their review into this, for those forced out of their homes at Christmas it will seem too little, too late."

Mr Leamon told BBC London Radio: "To replace one kilometre of our largest pipes can take six to eight months, so that means taking out some the largest roads in London for a very long time.

"That's a 30 to 40 year programme and that's something we need to do faster and we have to get the investment in place to do that."

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