Before tonight’s campaign session, I went over to Barnsbury Street to meet residents who are complaining about a nasty pong in the air (not the Labour party HQ, on this occasion).
The smell is coming from the public drains in the street, and the summer combination of heavy rain followed by warm sun seems to bring out the worst of it.
The residents say it’s been happening on and off for years. The newsagent can smell it in his basement, and one resident told me she has to move her car into College Cross when she washes it, because she can’t stand the smell in Barnsbury Street. There was definitely a bad pong coming from the manhole cover near the corner of Milner Terrace, which I’ve duly reported to Thames Water. The Tribune may carry the story too.
Residents were goaded into raising a stink now, because of last week’s news that traders at the Angel are paying for rose-scented pavement sprays. Is this the 21st century equivalent of the pomanders and lavender our ancesters used to cope with the Great London Stink in years past?
London’s water and sewer system was the envy of the world when Edwin Chadwick introduced it 160 years ago. But now it’s feeling its age. Thames Water have been replacing the water mains under Islington and found that some were so old they were held together with pegs not screws.
London’s sewers get so overloaded at times of heavy rain that they vent directly into the Thames as highlighted by Lib Dem campaigners – not what you expect from a ‘world-class city’ as Mayor Livingstone likes to call us.
Meanwhile the new housing targets being foisted on every borough will inevitably place extra strain on our water supplies. We desperately need new homes – and Islington has built more than most in recent years – but we also need the development to be sustainable if we’re to avoid stinks and worse in future years.