THERE WAS an awful smell of gas in the very lovely Mill Street in Oxford this morning. It’s almost as if someone wanted to blow the Victorian houses up and replace them with 10 story buildings.
Here’s the background to the sequence of today’s events. Oxford University is laying underground high broadband cables and our Mill Street is the victim – it’s an awful row and endless parking problems. Parking has been suspended while the contracting company grinds away at Mother Earth – inconvenience isn’t the word for it.
While grinding away, said contractors for Oxford University decided to destroy a gas main, and residents in the street smelled the gas because it was very very smelly indeed.
A resident complained – quite rightly – but the contractors were insouciant because what the heck, we are just the enemies of the Oxford University estate by living here.
At 8:10, I hailed a contractor and said there is an awful smell of gas. He said: “Do you smoke?” I said yes. And then he said close your front windows then. The gas man arrived with his divining rod, and more or less declared a shut down of activities. The contractors didn’t listen, and continued their eternal grinding of the street producing sparks.
Eventually, and really quite quickly, Southern Gas – the heroes of this story, arrived – asked the contractors to shut down their activities because the mains gas pipe had been breached, hence the stink. One of the contractors lit up a fag and ignored Southern Gas’ entreaties. The contractors@Oxford University had breached the main. Mill Street, Oxford 2, became a very noisy street as the ramifications developed.
Southern Gas – god bless them and amazingly I never thought I would bless the gas men – took a photograph of the breach of the mains, getting Oxford University contractors to sign off, and then proceeded in a southerly direction to my house.
For five hours or so, the contractors shillied and shallied while the gas board fixed the problem – I had noticed a lack of pressure when I tried to have a shower first thing this morning.
They smoked fags in a gas laden area, and at one point threw a fag into the trench Oxford University had made with so much noise and alarums.
Our gas was restored. The heroes here are Stephen Chadwick and his team from Southern Gas, who restored the service. The villain is Oxford University, which is subjecting Mill Street@Oxford 2 to cruel and unusual punishment, including noise and sparks. Oxford University should be ashamed of itself. But it has no shame, as far as Mill Street is concerned. Pictures follow. I feel sorry for the kids faced with the endless noise and fear of explosions. ♥
You may be wondering about the car outside the hoose. The contractors bumped it out of the way yesterday – in case there was congestion. How could the contractors be so careless? At one point there were three gas engineers in my front room. I seek recompense from these shoddy Oxford University cowboys. Pay up!
The contractors are not of course the employees of Oxford University, but independent contractors. As such, the university will not be liable legally or even responsible morally for their negligence. I would sue the contractors directly (although your chances are not that great – you might want to google a case called Spartan Steel) and stop badmouthing the university, without which your house would be worth a lot less!