Frustration bubbles up as neighbourhood springs a leak

HOPE SPRINGS: The satirical note
HOPE SPRINGS: The satirical note

By Alice Reece

GOOD humour springs eternal in one Tunbridge Wells neighbourhood, but anger is bubbling up, too over a stubborn water leak, residents told the Times.

Residents at the corner of Farmcombe Close and Farmcombe Road reported a visible leak to South East Water (SEW) on June 14, but as the leak continued to flow, they decided to make a feature of the flow – for as long as it lasts.

A sign appeared, hailing the discovery of the ‘Farmcombe Spring’ on June 14 2023, and claiming: “Tourists come from far and wide to bathe in its crystal clear waters.”

Just to make sure the target of the satire was not lost on any of the tourists “from far and wide”, the anonymous sign-writer continued: “To be ignored please contact South East Water: 0333 000 0365.

“Or try [South East Water CEO] David Hinton (salary £271,620).”

Someone has even added the Farmcombe Spring to Google Maps.

Explaining the community effort, Carol Startup, whose retired engineer husband, Ian, put a hosepipe into the hole to siphon off the ‘spring’ water more efficiently, told the Times: “It’s a very sociable estate.”

Yet despite the humour and inventiveness of the sign and the siphon, she said the jokes were a sign of real displeasure.

“I’m annoyed because there’s all this water!” Carol told the Times, explaining that although people were using the siphon to get water into buckets and wheelie bins, a quantity of water was still flowing down the road.

“There is a lot of anger, quite a lot of annoyance,” she stressed.

A recent news report that water bills across the country could rise 40 per cent to cover the cost of tackling the sewage crisis and consequences of climate change – a figure former Environment Secretary George Eustice dismissed – had further fuelled WhatsApp discussion among neighbours, Carol added.

The hosepipe ban was introduced in Kent and Sussex on June 26, with South East Water blaming a range of issues including “extreme weather conditions”, “working from home” and “high demand” for the new ban.

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