Binmen ignored water bottles at leak-hit homes

VILLAGERS who were given emergency supplies of bottled water following a major leak have been left to dispose of the plastic waste themselves after council bin men refused to collect them.

Last week around 3,000 homes in Mountfield, Robertsbridge, Hurst Green, Bodiam and Flimwell were left without water for up to 36 hours following a series of water main bursts in the early hours of Tuesday morning (August 6).

South East Water handed out thousands of bottles of water to stricken residents as the firm’s contractors battled to fix the leaks.

But some residents have been left struggling to dispose of the empty bottles.

On Monday residents in Mountfield left the bottles in their black recycling boxes to be taken away by Rother District Council contractors.

But because the lids could not be closed fully on some of the boxes because of the sheer number of bottles, they were not picked up.

Bin liners full of empty plastic bottles left at the side of the road were also not collected.

Peter Miles, who lives in Mountfield, picked up many of the bin bags from Mountfield Lane and Hoath Hill and took them to the local waste recycling site.

He told the Observer: “I actually collected several bin bags down the lane and took them down to the recycling site in Robertsbridge and left them by the bins.

“I have tried calling Rother a couple of times this morning (Tuesday) and the standard thing is ‘call back later’.”

Peter, who helped to deliver hundreds of bottles of water to Mountfield residents, praised South East Water for keeping villagers informed.

He said: “I feel they kept people up-to-date as well as they could.

“It is Rother who have let us down here.

“Full marks to South East Water, but fewer marks to Rother and their contractors.”

Rother District Council head of amenities Kim Ross said: “We apologise if residents were expecting these extra bottles to be collected.

“Unfortunately our waste and recycling team was not made aware of the deliveries of bottled water, otherwise we could have planned for this scenario.

“Now we have been made aware of the issue, we have instructed our contractors to clear excess bottles on their recycling rounds.”

Residents with any further enquiries can contact Rother at customer.services@rother.gov.uk

The bursts happened in Battenhurst Road, Stonegate, and outside Ticehurst church.

The company has launched an investigation.

Simon Robertson, head of distribution at South East Water, said: “We would like to apologise once again to our customers for the inconvenience they experienced during these bursts and thank them for their patience as our teams worked hard to tackle these difficult bursts.”