Interesting evening; Cable was very poor as Chair, he was unable to control the meeting effectively and didn't stick to the agenda. It degenerated into random open-floor questions, eventually Robin stood up and asked a question, which was that could we go through the pre-asked questions list please. He skipped questions submitted by people who had to leave early or simply weren't there, though most points were covered one way or another.
(To be fair there was one noisy heckler at the front who just would not shut up, but I'd have thought Cable would have the skills to deal with someone like that - surely better to let him get it out in one go than try to shout him down). It wasn't a great choice of venue, they didn't have a microphone set up (despite the room appearing to be kitted out for sound) and there was music coming through from an adjacent room in the centre. Fireworks outside drowned out voices on several occasions. The projector screen was laughably small for the room size and the EA couldn't get their presentation to work on the laptop, so had to hold up pictures, despite this they presented the material quite well. I've made it sound a bit shambolic, it wasn't really that bad, but nowhere near as well managed as the RUG8 meeting the previous night.
Richard Aylard from Thames Water presented the usual stuff about mis-connections affecting the river, how they trace and rectify the problems. Twickenham is the worst borough in the whole Thames region for blocking drains with fatbergs and wet wipes, TW are beginning an aggressive advertising campaign to highlight this problem. They will be promoting some freebies this Christmas to assist with scraping out and binning your cooking fat instead of putting it down the drain.
Aylard went on to explain about the broken penstocks that caused the 2011 incident. On the recent prosecution, Rob Gray from Force said that he was disapointed with the £76,000 fine, which Aylard countered that the judge had started at £360,000 and reduced due to the £400,000 mitigation fund and so on; Would we rather that £360,000 went to the treasury or £400,000 to the river? I stood up at this point and stated that I'd prefer if his company's mind were better concentrated by having to pay both amounts.
Heathrow are investing £16m on flooding and pollution from the eastern balancing ponds, this is as a result of CAA and EA regulation, about time too. They work to a 5-year cycle and have just begun "cycle 6". The aim is to halve the amount of glycol used.
The EA explained about the broken sludge pipe that had caused the 2013 incident, they had unfortunately been unable to identify the perpetrators (fly tippers) so no prosecution is likely.
Another fish restocking will be attempted this December.
Most of the people making a lot of noise in the meeting were anglers I think.
Met Kevin Booth, a local angler who has kept meticulous records of Crane pollution over 30 years, we invited him to join our forum.
Met Nigel Botherway who has taken over Keith Arthur's radio show, he'd like to interview us at the weekend.