Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Another excavator emergncy

A visit to County Hall this morning for the Countdown 2009 Executive. I was not surprised and not a little gratified to hear Dick Geen of Community Saftey report to the meeting that several trees new and old in the city centre were likley to compromise CCTV cameras in their vicinity, just as I had observed outside St John's. I was pleased to have a chance to report on the part of the Faith Focus Group the possibility of a new partnership between street care volunteers working with the city centre's homeless, and the newly formed Housing and Neighbourhood Renewal Team, as emerged from yesterday afternoon's session. The meeting went on a bit and I returned one bus later than usual, which made me late for the noon Eucharist. As I dashed from bus stop to church I rehearsed my apologies and hoped the regulars hadn't given up on me and left, since I'm rarely ten minutes late, even if I often arrive close to time. 

To my surprise I discoverd the church was cordoned off, and there were lots of people and police officers standing around looking in the general direction of O'Neill's pub.  Assuming it had nothing to do wiht me I went around into Worknig Street and entered the church by the sacristy gate, only to discover the place was empty.  Then I slipped outside the tower entrance and there learned that an emergency had been declasred just before mid-day, due to a gas leask, and all the buildings in the vicinty evacuated.

I found the St Mike's Tea Room volunteers over by the Queen's arcade, having a drink and wondering whjen they'd be let back in and what they'd be able to do about the mountain of cake and sandwiches they were in the middle of selling. Apparently the congregation, once turfed out of church had called it a day and left by noon, before I arrived. So no apology needed in the end. By quarter to one we were allowed back in, and within five minutes it was business as usual in the Tea Room, with people queuing to be served.  You can't keep people away from good freshly made cake, sandwiches and tea!

I overhead one of Skanska's site supervisors complaining about pipes not properly marked on the infrastructure maps.  This would cost the company £5,000 in call out and repair charges. Last time we had an excavator incident St John Street was flooded with water, and the time before electricty to the church and surrounding shops was cut off for several hours. It's true the emergency people are good at getting things fixed efficiently, and at a price. It's not unusual for apparently for these maps to be inaccurate, due to careless work on the part of previous contractors, long gone. One wonders why such large mechanical implements have to be used to excavate, when a small gang of men with smaller power tools if need be could excavate manually with greater sensitivity to what they might find. I wonder if any one has done a total costing of the differences of method?

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