'There was nothing we could do' - Letchworth community centre forced to close again after rain sends raw sewage bubbling up through toilets and drains

PUBLISHED: 13:29 13 June 2016 | UPDATED: 13:29 13 June 2016

Tony and Pat Page cleaning up the sewage after it overflowed through the toilets and kitchen drains at the Howard Garden Social Centre in Letchworth.

Tony and Pat Page cleaning up the sewage after it overflowed through the toilets and kitchen drains at the Howard Garden Social Centre in Letchworth.

Archant

The weekend's heavy rain has sent raw sewage up through a cherished Letchworth community centre's toilets and drains and forced it to close for the day.

Tony and Pat Page cleaning up the sewage after it overflowed through the toilets and kitchen drains at the Howard Garden Social Centre in Letchworth.Tony and Pat Page cleaning up the sewage after it overflowed through the toilets and kitchen drains at the Howard Garden Social Centre in Letchworth.

Staff and volunteers are hard at work today to clean up the Howard Garden Social and Day Care Centre, which acts as a second home for more than 100 older people, and hopefully get it open again for tomorrow.

The centre, in Norton Way South, was forced to close for four months last year after flash flooding in the summer, and reopened shortly before Christmas.

Tony Page, the centre’s treasurer, is one of those scrubbing the floors along with his wife Pat.

He said: “It’s flooded the drains, so the water has come up through the drains and into the centre, mainly through the gents’ toilets.

Tony and Pat Page cleaning up the sewage after it overflowed through the toilets and kitchen drains at the Howard Garden Social Centre in Letchworth.Tony and Pat Page cleaning up the sewage after it overflowed through the toilets and kitchen drains at the Howard Garden Social Centre in Letchworth.

“The centre’s predominantly OK, except for the kitchen and the toilets.

“I came down at 9pm last night, but there was nothing we could do. It was just bubbling up through the drains.

“We had barriers installed on all the doors after last time and that’s stopped 98 per cent of it, but unfortunately some has still come through so we’ve had to close today.”

Councillor Lorna Kercher, who represents Letchworth East on North Herts District Council and chairs the centre’s trustees, called the incident ‘soul-destroying’.

“We closed for four months before Christmas, and now this,” she said.

“We’re just a small charity trying to run something for the elderly people. The centre’s used by a very wide variety of groups – among other things we cook for the elderly. The team here is really quite effective.

“It’s all come into the larder and all over the back.

“I’m almost crying. We’ve had to put the elderly people off again. We’ve closed for today but we hope to be open again tomorrow.

“It’s not as bad as last time, but it’s still soul-destroying.

“And it’s not just us – it’s all over Letchworth. It’s up to the utility people to do something. You can’t just keep on leaving this.”

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