Water outage 'likely to continue into the weekend'

About 31,000 properties in St Leonards and parts of Hastings remain without water after Southern Water said a burst main disrupted supplies.

Five schools and three college sites in East Sussex were closed on Friday due to the outages which started on Thursday.

The water company said its teams were working "around-the-clock" to fix the issue and bottled water stations have opened in Hastings and St Leonards.

The utility company said: "We are very sorry that our customers in St Leonards-on-Sea and parts of Hastings are experiencing loss of water. This is likely to continue into the weekend."

Southern Water said a water main had burst between Darwell Reservoir and water supply works which feed into Hastings.

It said engineers were "making good progress in removing the broken pipe and replacing it with a new length of pipework".

The site is located in isolated woodland at Keepers Wood near the A21.

Because of its "difficult" location, director Tim McMahon said the company had to fell 50 trees in order to get to the burst.

"This is by far the most difficult location I’ve ever seen," he told BBC Radio Sussex.

The outage will impact the bank holiday weekend, during which Hastings is set to host the annual four-day Jack in the Green Festival and the May Day Bike Run, which usually see thousands of people visit the town.

The White Rock Theatre has closed due to the water shortage and has cancelled events, including a pop-up nightclub for adults with learning disabilities and a music event for the Jack in the Green festival.

The venue said it is "deeply disappointing" the shortage has coincided with the annual celebrations.

It said ticket holders for the Brown Boots Boogie Band – The Big Ceilidh event on due to take place on Saturday have been contacted and issued with a refund.

ARK Little Ridge Primary Academy, Churchwood Primary Academy, New Horizons School and St Paul's Church of England Academy in St Leonards are closed.

Westfield School, two College Central campuses and East Sussex College's Station Plaza campus in Hastings are also closed.

David Sparks, a Hastings resident picking up bottled water from a station at Sea Road on Friday, said he was "pretty peeved off" by the disruption to supplies.

"We can’t flush the toilet. We’ve got nothing to drink. We don’t have a water tank in our house so as soon as it ran out we had nothing," he told BBC Sussex.

He added that there was an "extensive ongoing issue" with the water firm.

"We’ve had constant sewage leaks into the sea, we’ve had sewage pipes bursting just along the way here," said Mr Sparks.

Karen Arthur, also picking up water in the town, said she initially thought a neighbour warning about water shortages on Thursday night "was a joke".

She said: "I filled my kettle, my water bottle and another jug and put it in the fridge and got back into bed thinking it’d be fine.

"Woke up this morning - no water... I’ve got a friend visiting today, I’m going out tonight. It’s going to be a very funky evening."

Summerfields Leisure Centre in Hastings is currently closed until its water supply resumes.

Bottled water stations are also open at Asda and Tesco in St Leonards.

Southern Water said it was delivering bottled water to vulnerable customers on its priority services register.

Sally Ann-Hart, Conservative MP for Hastings and Rye, said environment secretary Steve Barclay was "joining me in putting pressure on Southern Water get water supply back as a matter of urgency and priority".

Hastings Borough Council said it was working with Southern Water and other agencies to help manage the situation and to ensure vulnerable people are looked after.

It said in a statement: “Hastings has an exciting programme of events planned this bank holiday weekend, including Jack in the Green.

“We also anticipate that some services, including public toilets may be impacted. We will update as soon as we know more about how the situation is developing."

The organisers of the Jack in the Green event said: "We have heard from Southern Water that there is still considerable uncertainty as to when the leak will be repaired.

"There is a real chance that the position could deteriorate further over the weekend.

"We will do our very best to run what we can, but please be prepared for short notice changes and even cancellations."

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