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Company fined again as Thames Water gets tough on water theft

Company fined again as Thames Water gets tough on water theft

Friday 11th December 2020 12:27

Wooldridge Plant Ltd must pay more than £6,500 for illegally connecting to roadside hydrants

Wooldridge Plant Ltd must pay more than £6,500 for illegally connecting to roadside hydrants

A street sweeping company has been fined for the second time in 18 months after illegally tapping in to Thames Water hydrants.

Wooldridge Plant Ltd will have to pay more than £6,500 after pleading guilty to two charges under the Water Industry Act 1991 at Reading Magistrates’ Court on Friday, November 27.

The company used illegal standpipes to connect to the supply and fill up road sweepers in Church Lane in Reading and Lower Icknield Way in Chinnor.

Thames Water had previously prosecuted the Bagshot-based firm in June 2019, resulting in a fine and costs of more than £6,000, before the latest offences were uncovered.

Director Martin Taylor admitted his firm stole water from the roadside hydrants in October last year and explained he runs regular talks and vehicle checks with his staff.

He was fined £650 fine for each offence, along with more than £5,000 in costs and a £65 victim surcharge.

Claire Rumens, Thames Water’s illegal connections manager, said: “We work hard around the clock to cut leakage and ask our customers to use water wisely, so it is not fair for others to take water without paying.

“Our work to find and stop illegal connections has ramped up in recent years, helping us to uncover hundreds of offences and save millions of litres of water, but there is still more to do.

“We’re disappointed that, despite being fined last year, this company has continued to take water and not pay for it. We will always look to work with individuals and companies before going to court but if lessons are not learnt then we have no hesitation about taking further action.”

In the last three years, Thames Water has recovered more than £450,000 from contractors, landowners and other third parties who illegally took water from hydrants.

With climate change and population growth putting a strain on water resources, the UK’s largest water company has clamped down on those using water but not paying for it.

More than 200 separate offences were uncovered, with the perpetrators either asked to pay a retrospective charge or prosecuted in court. All of the money is reinvested back into crucial work to provide clean and wastewater services to 15 million customers across London and the Thames Valley.

Anyone found using a standpipe without permission will be given the opportunity to pay a charge. Those who fail to pay and repeat offenders will be prosecuted.

To report any water network abuse email illegalconnections@thameswater.co.uk or call customer service on 0800 980 8800. Find out more about obtaining Thames Water standpipes here.

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