Isobel is a Conserative councillor on Reading Borough Council representing the newly created Caversham Heights Ward.
Do get in touch if you'd like her help with a council-related issue via email: Isobel.Ballsdon@reading.gov.uk
Urgent gas mains replacement – Reading Bridge, George Street
Bridge closure: from Monday 29 June for approximately six weeks
A message from SGN:
"Firstly, please accept our apologies for such short notification of the work outlined below. Following the tragic events in Reading last weekend, we were requested to hold on sending out wider communications until now.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Reading.
"As I’m sure you are already be aware, SGN have been given the approval to commence urgent work to replace two strategic gas mains on George Street/Reading Bridge. The gas mains being replaced are mandatory gas pipes that supply Reading and Caversham and have a priority rating to be replaced. We will be replacing the old metal gas pipes with a new plastic pipes that will ensure we can continue to provide gas safely and efficiently to the local area long into the future. Their replacement will also significantly reduce the risk of future leaks resulting in disruptive emergency works and potential unplanned closures of Reading Bridge.
"You may recall we attempted to replace one of the gas mains across the bridge last year, following further on-site investigation and discovering there was a potential of losing local gas supplies, our project team immediately stopped work, sending the project back to our network specialist teams to be re-engineered. Following their direction, we will be now be replacing both mains to ensure we can maintain the network integrity and supply for the community.
"Access across the bridge will be maintained for pedestrians and cyclists. To support social distancing guidelines, there will be two pedestrian walkways and two cycle paths across the bridge. Each pathway/cycleway will be clearly signposted with the direction of traffic flow.
"We appreciate this work will be disruptive for road users at a crucial time for the town returning to some normality following COVID 19 lockdown. You may also question why this work couldn’t have taken place sooner during the full lockdown. Like all organisations SGN have been following Government guidelines and only returning to planned works when advised it is safe to do so for the public and our engineers. To protect our workforce and operational teams, SGN have only continued with emergency work during the lockdown.
"At the request of the local authority, we have resourced this project to bring forward these works to allow at least some of work to be carried out whilst the road networks are still quieter than normal. It is also vital that we carry out this work during the summer months to ensure we can maintain network reliability. Carrying this work out in cooler months would put significant pressure on the gas network and local supplies to Reading and Caversham.
"I would like to reassure you, SGN are working closely with UK Government and public health bodies to make sure we carry out our project in line with all current coronavirus safety guidance. We have no plans to interrupt gas supplies to homes or businesses, and our engineers won’t be calling at residents’ homes other than in the case of an emergency where strict social distancing measures will be adhered to.
"We have extra safety precautions in place to protect our colleagues and our communities from the virus. Our colleagues will be keeping to social distancing guidelines on our sites and we’d ask communities to keep their distance too. There’s more information about our coronavirus response on our website: www.sgn.co.uk/coronavirus
"We will be working a seven-day week with support from additional teams. Due to local environmental restrictions, night-time works will be kept to a minimum and only when necessary. We would like to reassure you that our engineers will be working as quickly and as safely as possible to complete this work without delay.
"If you’d like to get in touch with us about this project, please call our Customer Service team on 0800 912 1700 who will be happy to direct your enquiry. There’s more information about our coronavirus plans, as well as other ways to contact us, on our website: sgn.co.uk/coronavirus."