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


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.

Latest Romford News Stories

Yesterday, 22:27

A two-year-old boy is in hospital with life-threatening injuries after a vehicle collided with pedestrians in Rainham earlier today.

Yesterday, 17:01

A man and a teenager from Romford have been charged following the theft of a Mercedes sports car in Brentwood.

Yesterday, 15:29

London Fire Brigade’s borough commander for Havering Paul Hobbs discussed firefighters’ best resources, new technology and his role in an exclusive interview with the Recorder.

Yesterday, 12:00

Residents are invited to wear their best neon, colourful outfits for two 1980s themed nights organised by a Hornchurch charity.

Yesterday, 10:16

A police officer raped a 16-year-old student twice while they were on a date in Romford, a court has heard.

Yesterday, 07:00

A top cop has vowed not to take his foot off the gas in a battle against burglaries after declaring a recent crime wave “under control”.

Mon, 18:10

Sky customers in Romford have been warned that they will be without internet for eight hours tonight.

Mon, 17:55

Hot temperatures of 24 degrees didn’t deter these Havering London Marathon runners who took on the 26.2 mile challenge in record heat.


There are many reasons people decide to join a gym. Some want to pack on muscle for strength, train for endurance, or lose weight. But did you know it also does wonders for your mental health? Two members at Romford’s Better Gym in the Market Place talk about their personal fitness journey and the importance of replacing bad habits with good ones.

Sean Watson, director at the family-run St Michaels Homes which runs Howard Lodge and Dudbrook Hall, answers the common questions people have about care homes.

NC Construction Services Ltd, based in Hornchurch, Essex, is branching out into residential home improvements and refurbishments after many years working in the commercial sector, in direct response to potential clients looking to add space and value to their property.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read news

Show Job Lists

News from your area


Having a brand new kitchen is something that lots of people want but can only dream of. Sadly keeping up to date and making our living spaces as nice as they can be is a costly and incredibly stressful business. Even a fresh coat of paint makes all the difference but isn’t easy or quick.

Who wouldn’t love the chance to go on a shopping spree. Imagine being able to walk into a shop and choose whatever your heart desires without having to worry about how much it costs.

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Romford Recorder
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now