THOUSANDS of gallons of water were left gushing from a leak in Penhill over the weekend, despite calls for engineers to fix it.

Residents called Thames Water at about 6am on Friday, with further calls made during the day, after finding a leak had sprung in the pavement in Penhill Drive.

After calls from the police advising them the situation was getting worse, engineers visited on Saturday night but could not carry out repairs as it was too dark.

They returned yesterday morning, where pools of water had already appeared in the surrounding area, but once again left the scene after engineers felt intimidated and threatened by the behaviour of some people on the scene.

They were due to go back out to repair the problem last night. Coun Paul Baker (Lab, Penhill and Upper Stratton ) said: “It was first brought to their attention on Friday morning. “There are gallons of water all over the pavement, road and people’s gardens. It is a main walkway. There must be hundreds of gallons pouring out every minute. “The path is starting to bow. If the path bows any more we will have a mini fountain like the one at Asda Walmart.” Coun Baker made three calls on Friday, further calls over the weekend, and said he knew of other residents who had also made calls to get it fixed. David Jarvis, 73, a retired Royal Mail worker, lives next to where the leak sprung. “I knew straight away it was the mains. The split has been getting bigger and bigger,” he said. “If it blows the whole pavement will go.

“They have told us it’s not an emergency. I am disgusted with Thames Water. They should have sent someone out straight away.” The water flowed down the sloping drive of Paul Vines’ house and reached the damp course.

“I was sweeping the water away on Friday but overnight it just got higher. It has been slowly rising,” said the 49-year-old bricklayer.

“When I phoned on Friday they said it’s a non-emergency. I told them it’s all down my alleyway and close to my damp course. I just don’t understand how it can take them so long to come out.”

Engineers arrived at the scene at about 10am yesterday. A spokesman for Thames Water said: “It was reported as a non-emergency leak in the footpath on Friday.

“However, the police advised us the problem was getting worse on Saturday afternoon and two engineers attended Saturday night to investigate a reported burst water main. They decided it was too big a job to repair at night, with daylight needed for visibility, and so the team returned on Sunday morning to carry out the repair.

“However, after being subjected to intimidating and threatening behaviour by people at the scene, the engineers were forced to leave site for their own safety.

“This is really disappointing and means more inconvenience for local residents, and more wasted water. Another team of engineers is scheduled to go back at 6pm to finish the job.

“We regret the amount of water that has leaked into this area but the safety of our staff comes first.”

But not at 4am, thanks!

A WORKING couple had an axe to grind with a water firm after engineers woke them up while carrying out emergency repairs in the early hours.

Sarah and Stuart Selwood had a rude awakening at around 4am on Friday when workmen began using an angle grinder and bright halogen lights to work on a burst water main in Station Road, Purton .

The water firm has apologised for the inconvenience but said the leak had been reported at 1.15am and had been deemed urgent enough to require immediate attention.

But Sarah, 44, who runs her own beauty salon, said she thought the disturbance was unacceptable.

“I think it’s out of order for them to start working on it at that time in the morning,” she said. “We had noticed the leak the week before and there had been barriers up around the drain so it obviously was not that urgent.

“I first woke up at 4am and my husband was already stirring. “He said he thought they were doing some work in the road but then after 45 minutes of trying to get back to sleep they started up the angle grinder.

“Stuart put his jeans on and went to talk to the lads out there, who just gave us the complaints number to call.

“They didn’t stop and the work went on until around 6am. I called them immediately and was told they had a report earlier on and they had a permit to do it. “

I am extremely unhappy that this level of noise in a residential area was made during the very early hours of the morning – we are both hard working people and had long days ahead of us.

“It’s not acceptable. We moved to Purton because it was quiet and then something like this happens.”

A spokesman for Thames Water said: “We were called to a burst water main in Station Road, Purton, in the early hours of the morning.

“It was so serious we had to carry out emergency repairs there and then.

“Had we delayed many of our customers would have been left without water later that day when they got up to wash and have breakfast before heading off to work.

“We’re very sorry for the disturbance that this must-do job caused.”