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



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.


Furniture Village opens its doors in Crawley’s County Oak Retail Park



Crawley welcomes Furniture Village who will open a brand-new store in County Oak retail park this Boxing Day.

The new location offers a Carpetright concession, providing a one-stop-shop for customers looking to update their homes.

Visitors to the new Furniture Village store will be invited to create their ‘home in one’, by exploring collections for every room of the house, from sofas to beds to dining.

Charlie Harrison, Commercial Director at Furniture Village, comments:

“With much of the UK under lockdown, I’m delighted we’ve been able to open our new store in Crawley. County Oak is a fantastic shopping destination and the ideal choice for Furniture Village.

“It’s been a challenging year for everyone, but I am incredibly proud of the Furniture Village team which continues to offer industry-leading quality, choice and service. As well as Family Retailer of the Year, we’ve also been awarded National Bed Retailer of the Year so I’m particularly looking forward to welcoming customers to our new bed department.”

The store will see a team of 11 expert sales consultants offering valuable insights and advice to customers, all made possible thanks to enhanced Covid-19 safety measures.

These include temperature checks, PPE for all staff and hand sanitisation stations, along with an appointment booking system which can be accessed via the website.

Charlie Harrison, Commercial Director at Furniture Village, adds:

“Customer safety is still, and will continue to be, a priority for us. The feedback from all of our existing stores continues to be overwhelmingly positive, with the appointment booking system providing reassurance and exceptional service for customers.”

The store will open at 9am on Saturday 26th December 2020. Opening offers include Sale discounts of up to 50% plus an additional £50 off every £500 spent.

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