WATER company officials were sent away with a flea in their ear after they ignored advice to consult people about plans for a £2m sewage pumping station under a play park.

The Royal Wootton Bassett scheme – intended to deal with flood water in the area around the New Road site – was put before the town council at its planning meeting.

But the presentation was halted when it became clear the firm had not followed the council’s earlier request to speak to residents and include a replacement park in an updated plan.

Wessex Water later said in a statement: “We pride ourselves with engaging with the community but we missed a trick. So we will go back and take that step and then come back with a better plan.

“We consulted with the town council on our proposals to protect the local community from flooding and to improve water quality of a local stream. As this involved building a storage tank underground, and below a play area, we offered to pay for new play equipment.

“Residents have since raised concerns over what we’re proposing, which is why we have decided not to pursue the current planning application.

“While it’s important we resolve the flooding problem, we will look to see if there are other solutions that would work better for the local community, and at the same time protect the area from flooding during heavy rainfall.”

Coun Paul Heaphy said: “The residents were very concerned and I think Wessex Water realised they had made a mistake and so they are going to go back and take the steps they need to move forward.”

Wessex Water told the Adver there was a history of flooding in the area and a need to protect the water quality of a nearby watercourse, which is why the scheme has been proposed.

The company intended to replace the park once work on the station was complete, but that would take four to five months.

Colin Watts, 67, of Richards Close said: “Many of us in the area have no memory of issues with flooding.

"Back in the 70s there was because of the drains being blocked but that has nothing to do with what’s happening now.

“The town councillors were aggrieved with the plan and the presentation.

"They told Wessex Water that they needed to engage with the people here but they didn’t.”

Deputy town mayor Nic Hughes added: “We have a responsibility to follow the path that we think is the right one.

"We need to realise that our system was built in years ago, but we need to make sure the plan is adequate for those living in the area.

"This is a problem that impacts a few people and it could affect more.”

In its planning application to Wiltshire Council, Wessex Water said the play area site was chosen because the volume of flood water in New Road during heavy storms overwhelmed the sewer.

A new overflow would be in installed along with a storage tank to provide extra capacity, but the tank needs to be close to the new sewer and the only open space in the area was the play park.

The company claimed three householders had suffered flooding in their gardens on 12 separate occasions in the last five years.

Around 70 people had objected to the plan because of the disturbance it could cause and the potential environmental impact.