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Dorrell in sewer row

FORMER HEALTH Secretary Stephen Dorrell MP has intervened in a row between a retired civil engineer and his local council over sewer ownership.

Ex-Leicester County Council engineer Michael Moseley, 71, claims Blaby District Council is trying to force him and his neighbours to pay for repairs to a public sewer. This week Moseley and 560 residents of the Calverly estate in Glenfield, Leicestershire, received a letter notifying them they would be billed up to £200 for the work.

New records produced since 1980 when the water authority took over sewers in the area now show the pipe as privately owned. But speaking to NCE on Tuesday, Dorrell, MP for the area, said many residents who moved into the estate in the 1960s had legal searches which showed it was a public sewer.

'There are a lot of people very concerned about this and so far the council has been unable to give us any satisfactory answers,' he said.

The residents suspect that the sewer changed status during the handover from the council to the water board. Dorrell has now called on Blaby's chief executive to make the 1960s plans of the sewer available. He will also attend a public meeting with the residents on 11 August.

But Blaby chief environmental health officer Stephen Beard, who was responsible for sending out the demand for money, said there was 'absolutely no doubt' that the sewer was private.

'The question in the legal search that Mr Moseley had carried out was ambiguous. It asks if there is a public sewer physically available within 100 feet of the properties, which there is. The properties are just not connected directly to it,' he said.

He added that if residents refused to pay for the repairs a charge would be booked against their properties which would continue to accrue interest until the properties were sold.

But Moseley vowed to continue his fight. 'I have had 80 year old widows round at my house in tears over this. This is not the kind of situation we should just accept,' he said.

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