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Rogue poo pipe sees elderly Harold Hill couple threatened with £50k fine

PUBLISHED: 07:00 05 October 2017

The Holland-Jones home had been using a misconnected sewer pipe for 32 years since an extension was built in 1985. Photo: Dirtyboxface via CC

The Holland-Jones home had been using a misconnected sewer pipe for 32 years since an extension was built in 1985. Photo: Dirtyboxface via CC

Archant

A couple in their 70s were left stunned when they were told they faced a £50,000 fine because their poo had been polluting a nearby river for 32 years.

On August 15, Brian Holland-Jones received a knock on the door from Thames Water inspectors who had identified his Retford Road home in Harold Hill as the source of sewage that was contaminating Paine’s Brook.

He was given just 21 days to fix the problem – which he had been completely unaware of since an extension to his home had been completed in 1985 – and was told that failure to do so could see him being fined as much as £50,000 by the Environment Agency.

The 79-year-old told the Recorder: “The stress has been terrible, we’re both almost in our 80s, and we were lying awake at night panicking about getting fined or spending thousands of pounds to have our kitchen floor ripped up.

“I spent 32 years not having to worry about which direction my poo went down a pipe, and all of a sudden I’m being told I’ve been breaking the law because of it!”

A number of contractors quoted Brian thousands of pounds to fix the problem, but fortunately a retired plumber acquaintance was able to complete the work for just £500.

The former plumber was forced to dig four feet down, and discovered the entire pipe had been covered in concrete - meaning Brian was forced to purchase a breaker to make sure the work was completed properly.

He is now waiting for Thames Water inspectors to check the new connection is up to scratch.

A Thames Water Spokeswoman said: “No one wants foul water from homes emptying directly into their local river, so it’s great to hear Mr Holland-Jones has taken such swift action.”

But Brian is still perplexed as to how exactly the fault went unnoticed all these years.

“We submitted our plans to the council and even had building inspectors in while the extension was going up – not a single person noticed the plumbing was illegal,” he said.

“Havering Council essentially owe me £500 for not spotting that back in 1985.”

A council spokesman confirmed the responsibility for the illegal sewage connection would not have been with the planning department, but with the builders in charge of the construction.

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