Sheffield Hallam: MP urges Ofgem to step in over 'litany of issues' following Stannington gas floods
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In December 2022, a water main in Stannington, Sheffield burst, damaging a nearby gas main and flooding the gas network. Around 3,000 people in the area lost gas supply for a week, in some cases longer, and Ms Blake has reported residents are continuing to have issues with gas meters and payments.
The MP said: “I am extremely concerned about what I have been hearing from residents. Ever since the incident, my office has been inundated with casework on a litany of issues.”
In a letter addressed to Ofgem CEO, Jonathan Brearley, Ms Blake said issues facing residents include: billing problems caused by flooded gas meters, replacement of gas meters and consequent billing issues, payment of compensation to those affected and outstanding repair work.
The MP claims meter issues are affecting compensation claims for residents. Ms Blakes writes: “The compensation paid by Cadent due to the incident went directly to energy suppliers who were supposed to pass it to customers.
"However, due to the complications with billing, they are instead using that money to settle outstanding balances caused by faulty meter readings. People are not therefore receiving the compensation to which they are entitled.
“Clearly, providers do not understand what happened in Stannington or the ongoing difficulties for residents. I believe there is a need for Ofgem to write to each supplier to formally inform them about the major incident, why it is likely that there will be discrepancies in meter readings, and that they should put in place policies for the issues that arise because of that.”
The MP claims a resident was billed £80 on the day of the incident last year, when his supply was cut off. The resident has said he attributes the charge to the pressure of the water passing through the meter.
Some residents in Stannington are also still waiting for repairs, the letter said. Ms Blake said: “During the incident, Yorkshire Water and Cadent put the question of liability aside to ensure issues were resolved as swiftly as possible. But I fear that drive has since dissipated and there have been significant hold-ups because of issues with the transferral of responsibility for repairs.
"People in Stannington urgently need clarity about who is responsible for what, and action to ensure outstanding issues are properly resolved.”
According to Ms Blake’s letter, it was decided issues raised before March 1, 2023, would be handled by Cadent and their contractor, Aspect. After the deadline, issues raised would be handled by Yorkshire Water. Furthermore, any issues handled by Aspect where “meaningful action” has not been made would be passed onto Yorkshire Water.
It is reported some residents were met with silence by Aspect and Cadent following the March 1 deadline, despite numerous earlier visits from their teams, due to the issue being passed on to Yorkshire Water’s loss adjustor, Charles Taylor.
Charles Taylor are reportedly refusing to recognise gas safety engineers reports done previously by Aspect, and are asking residents to source their own. Ms Blake states she has met with Cadent and asked for data to be shared with Yorkshire Water to prevent a doubling of work and delay for residents.
A Cadent spokesman said: “Cadent can confirm that compensation has been paid directly to affected residents of Stannington to Malin Bridge for not being able to transport gas to properties in the area, and this compensation did not go through energy companies. Payments were made as soon as possible after the incident, and we took the decision to pay above our standard compensation rate as a gesture of goodwill. We have continued to work to make repairs and replacements to any remaining appliances and we are providing support to customers and the local community.”