Sewage shock for parading Sidmouth scouts

06:00 05 May 2014

St George

St George's Day Parade. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref shs 0704-18-14SH To order your copy of this photograph go to www.sidmouthherald.co.uk and click on Photo Orders

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DISGUSTED MP Hugo Swire has called for action after flash floods caused a ‘lake’ of stinking raw sewage to seep across Sidmouth seafront – as 300 children marched along the road.

Young scouts should have been saluting Mr Swire and civic leaders on The Esplanade as the pinnacle of their St George’s Day parade, but instead held hands and neckerchiefs over their noses because of the ‘unbelievable’ stench.

Effluent and used sanitary products were among filth that bubbled up from drains and encroached on the procession on Sunday.

The unsavoury incident happened at the end of a huge parade of scouts from across East Devon that was a success despite downpours.

Mr Swire was so outraged by the ordeal he has called on South West Water (SWW) to ensure the problem never happens again - a demand echoed by John Hollick, the chairman of Sidmouth Town Council.

Both were on The Esplanade to take the scouts’ salute.

“There was sewage all down the front with tourists there,” said Mr Swire.

“The stench was unbelievable. All the scouts came past holding their noses.

“We, if nothing else, are a tourist destination and to have this happen is wholly unacceptable.

“I am contacting South West Water to ask why this happened and to ensure 100 per cent it never happens again. It was completely horrific, disgusting.”

Cllr Hollick added: “It was a great lake of sewage.

“You could see it bubbling up through the manhole covers.

“The salute became a non-event.

“The kids were more concerned with not walking through it.

“At one stage the road was flooded on both sides – there was just enough room to walk down the middle, shoulder to shoulder. It was quite horrendous.

“I’ve never, in all of the 47 years I’ve lived here, seen it like that.

“It needs investigating. It shouldn’t happen again – but it shouldn’t have happened in the first place.”

Gareth Hughes, chairman of the 1st Sid Vale Scouts who organised the parade, said no children came to any harm – but the incident did tarnish a successful event.

“It’s a shame for the kids that the parade had to finish that way,” he added.

A spokesman for SWW said crews were on-scene within an hour, adding: “We apologise that sewer flooding occurred at The Esplanade on Sunday.

“The intense downpours cause hydraulic overload in the system.

“The network was extensively cleaned in September, but the pipes in this area are suffering from a build-up of fat, oil and grease which reduces the ability of the sewers to cope with heavy rainfall.

“We will be visiting businesses in the area to remind them of their responsibilities not to dispose of fat down the sink and reviewing the cleansing regime in this part of the system.”

Pictures from the event can be found in the May 2 edition of the Herald.

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