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Crawley residents will now be able to access a drive-through bottled water station if supply incidents occur

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Southern Water, a main supplier of water throughout Crawley and Sussex undertook a Covid-19 focussed training exercise to practice changes to the bottled water supply process required if a mains water supply incident occurs.

On Tuesday 30 June, 40 staff members from across Southern Water, Water Direct, MTS and Double R traffic management assembled in the pouring rain at the companies Falmer, Brighton-based office to re-enact an incident with test drive-through bottled water collection points.

The idea was born after a recent mains burst in Hastings at the beginning of lockdown, which saw the incredible delivery of over 35,000 litres of bottled water to customers who needed it. But thanks to the speed of the challenging repair the drive-through delivery system proposed to support social distancing was not needed.

Tom Hales, Southern Water Emergency Planner, says:

“While the Southern Water response in Hastings was praised by Defra among other partners, the challenge of delivering bottled water to large numbers of customers who couldn’t leave the house was clear. Normally we deliver to vulnerable customers only and ask others to collect from a bottled water station – but these stations would mean people breaching social distancing guidelines, hence the drive-through solution being proposed.

Hale adds:

“Even with lockdown easing, social distancing is still key to keeping customers and Southern Water employees safe, and the only way to ensure we can run a drive-through bottled water station under those circumstance is to practice it as close to real life as possible.”

Paul Riordan, Operational Resilience and Response Manager, was delighted by the way the exercise went.

“Conditions were terrible but our participants kept their enthusiasm, and we have learned a lot about the challenges of doing things in a completely new way.”

If ever needed the new Covid-19 drive-through stations get set up around lorries containing pallet-loads of emergency water supplies, with signage erected to ensure traffic is managed safely.

As cars arrive a team member checks with the driver, from a distance through the window, how many people are in the household. This is signalled to a loader who simply puts the right number of bottles into the car boot, and the car departs.

To make the exercise realistic a few spanners were thrown into the works: a breakdown in a traffic lane and the odd frustrated customer lent realism to the event. While directing staff kept a close eye on what was going on – searching for glitches and hiccups and ensuring that health and safety was paramount.

“We aim to keep customers in supply at all times and everyone in the company works hard to achieve that. But with thousands of miles of pipeline and hundreds of water supply works and storage reservoirs, there can never be a guarantee. By drilling and practicing, we try to mitigate any problems and demonstrate to customers that we are a company that cares about their well-being, have alternatives plans in place during Covid-19, and is always ready to respond in a professional manner.” Paul Riordan concludes.

Business

Crawley jobs at risk as DW Sports goes into administration

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Jobs at DW Sports in Crawley town centre are at risk along with 1,700 hundred jobs across the country as the company announced it is to wind down the business.

The sports website has also been closed with immediate effect.

According to reports closing down sales are due to begin at the remaining stores as the business comes to an end.

Fitness First, a sister company of DW is to continue to operate as a separate company and its 43 clubs are not to be affected by the news.

Chief executive Martin Long said:

“As a consequence of Covid-19, we found ourselves in a position where we were mandated by Government to close down both our retail store portfolio and our gym chain in its entirety for a protracted period, leaving us with a high fixed-cost base and zero income.

“Like many other retail businesses, the consequences of this extremely challenging operating market have created inevitable profitability issues for DW Sports.

“The decision to appoint administrators has not been taken lightly but will give us the best chance to protect viable parts of the business, return them to profitability, and secure as many jobs as possible.

“It is a difficult model for any business to manage through without long-term damage, and with the limited support which we have been able to gain.

“Having exhausted all other available options for the business, we firmly believe that this process can be a platform to restructure the business and preserve many of our gyms for our members, and also protect the maximum number of jobs possible for our team members.”

Crawley Councillor Peter Smith, Cabinet member for Planning and Economic Development, said:

“This is terrible news for the staff of DW Sports; I sympathise with them and hope that they are able to secure other employment quickly. Our Employ Crawley service is currently providing free one-to-one employability and training support to jobseekers by phone, email and text.”

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