Thames Water’s road safety roulette in Charlton

Above is a man driving his car down a one-way street on Sunday afternoon. Although it’s not exactly clear that it is a one-way street. A few seconds later, he brakes to an abrupt halt when he realises there’s a car coming straight at him in the other direction.

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a moan about Thames Water tearing up Victoria Way in Charlton, without so much as a note to us who live here to explain what was going on, when we could expect disruption and whether or not we’d lose our water supply for a bit. It turns out some homes have been leafleted – information I wouldn’t have found out without posting here – but neither me nor my immediate neighbours have been told what’s going on.

Unusually, the works are taking place across the weekend – Skanska’s team was still at work until at least 5pm on Sunday. To be fair, the drills are being kept to weekdays and Saturday mornings, but it shows how big these works are. Which is why it would have been nice if we’d been kept informed.

One thing that’s struck me is just how bad the diversion signs are – “road closed” signs with a bit painted over plonked next to a “keep right” sign don’t exactly have the same unambiguous effect as a big “no entry” sign. Or even a “road closed” sign without paint all over it. A few days ago there was a near miss with a minicab on Victoria Way’s middle section, and it looks like few drivers are taking much notice of what limited signage there is. I’m half expecting this game of road safety roulette to end in a crash.

I found an e-mail for the Skanska project manager in charge and dropped her a note last Tuesday about the lack of information and dodgy signs, copying my three Charlton ward councillors in on it. Unfortunately, the project manager was away. I rang Thames Water instead, and later spoke to a woman at Skanska. She said a site supervisor would call to explain what was happening, and there’d be a very brief outage of water this coming week.

Nobody called (at least while I was at home) but to be honest, I’d rather they just fixed the signs and popped a note through the door to explain what’s going on. One thing does seem to have changed – one of the info boards now at least gives a date for completion of the works. Unfortunately, it’s towards the end of September. Again, it’d have been nice to have been warned.

I tried a different tack later in the week – using Thames Water’s Twitter feed to communicate with them. Apparently there was due to be a meeting on Friday about the works. No news from that, though.

No response either from the three Charlton ward councillors I copied into my original e-mail to Skanska. Too busy or just not interested?

So, in the meantime, we’re stuck with an accident waiting to happen outside and having to second guess the drilling. So what to do next? Shut up and put up with it, and hope nobody comes to grief outside?


  1. Not sure I expect there to be a crash. Screech of brakes and a bit of shoutiness and fist-waving, maybe.

    Seriously though, anyone who sees a Road Closed sign next to a big yellow Diversion sign, and keeps on going, can’t expect much sympathy if they do come to grief.

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