Landlords at the Row Barge pub on West Street are currently out of pocket to the tune of £400 after they had to refund their B&B guests who were kept awake by Thames Water digging up the road outside at 1am last Wednesday morning.
Cath Howie, who has run the pub with her partner Joe Miller for almost eight years said, “Basically, we’ve had this hole in the road, a Thames Water drainage hole, that’s been faulty for weeks, and apparently it was reported as an emergency at 10:45 on Tuesday morning, but then 12 hours later, they turned up with angle grinders and a pneumatic drill at 1 o’clock in the morning and started digging a hole in the road. Obviously, it woke us up and all of our B&B guests, as well as the other neighbours in the road. They said they were told that somebody had hit the hole in the road and come off their bike, which is rubbish as far as we’re concerned. But it was classed as an emergency and they had to get it done there and then.
“We therefore then had to compensate all of our guests, because they were kept up. I think [the workers] left at about half past 2; they were here for well over an hour and a half. So we were consequently out of pocket by £400. We have put a claim in and we’re waiting to hear back from Thames Water. It was just ridiculous. You can’t do that at 1 o’clock in the morning.”
Joe’s sister, Sarah Miller, a Henley Town councillor has been onto Thames Water as well.
Cath added, “I think they said that unless it was gas, it shouldn’t have been declared as an emergency at all.”
“On top of all the other work that’s been going on in West Street, with road closures and pavements being done and everything else, it was kind of the icing on the cake. Somebody from Thames Water is meant to be calling me; as yet I haven’t heard anything. There’s lots of different conflicting stories, so nobody seems to be giving us the actual story and a valid reason why it had to be done at 1am in the morning. The noise was horrendous.”
“At the end of the day, effectively, as a backstreet pub, we haven’t got any passing trade, so we have to do as much as we can to get custom in here in the first place. Our main income for us is B&B. We want people to leave happy and we don’t know that those people are going to come back again. They were very understanding, saying ‘it’s not your fault’, but at the same time, they still have to leave here happy, not knackered! They come here for a bed and breakfast and they haven’t had any sleep.”
“We were carrying out essential maintenance on West Street which if not completed, would have posed a danger to road users.
A spokesperson for Thames Water said, “The job was to repair and replace a valve underneath the road, which had collapsed and caused a large pothole, which was dangerous to road users. The road was dug up, the valve replaced and the road reinstated on the same night, minimising disruption on a busy road.
We’re sorry for the inconvenience caused, but the emergency work had to be done overnight to keep disruption to road users to a minimum. We’re in discussions with the owner of the bed and breakfast as part of our standard claims process.”
Cath responded to Thames Water’s statement by saying, “That’s ridiculous. It had been like that for weeks.” However, she has been contacted by them directly now, by a lady named Hannah. Cath added, “She was very helpful, when she called, and she helped me to fill out the claims form. We are claiming £400 from them for the lost rooms. We don’t know if those people will come back.”