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Questions and Answers (July 2021) - NPT Council, Tai Tarian & Coal Authority

Neath Port Talbot Council - Questions and Answers

(Q) Some drains still need clearing at the bottom of Goshen Park and in Sunnyland Crescent

From the correspondence our service has had with some of the residents, Cllr Mike Harvey and the Coal Authority (CA), we believe the reference to blocked drains at the bottom of Goshen Park is in relation to the private roof and yard water of the properties at the bottom of the cul-de-sac, some of which discharge to the soakaways in the rear gardens that the CA have renewed. If this is incorrect and it is in reference to highway gullies, then residents should contact the Council on 01639686868 to report the blocked gullies. We have attended on a number of occasions since the flood event to clean the gullies in Goshen Park with no issues identified. We are also aware that Welsh Water have recently experienced issues in relation to their infrastructure within the area and if it is a Welsh Water related issue, then residents should make contact with them.

(Q)There was a request that the traffic lights on the temporary access road need to be placed further up the road

The traffic lights were initially requested by local residents and Cllr Mike Harvey in order to try and manage the two way traffic along the narrow sections of Drummau Road during the closure at the junction between Goshen Park and Drummau Rd. A meeting was held on 22nd June with Cllr Harvey, NPT Council officers, Amberon (supplier) and the Coal Authority in response to more recent requests from residents for the lights to be removed.

Due to there being various narrow sections across the length of Drummau Road between 32 Drummau Road and the current positioning of the lights (circa 550m) it was thought by all parties that extending the lights was an unachievable option and would likely cause further issues associated with motorists ‘jumping the lights’. Cllr Harvey and the Coal Authority discussed putting the decision to the residents as to whether they should stay in situ or should be removed. We did suggest if that approach was to be taken then they would probably need to consult all of the streets affected by the closure. The Coal Authority agreed that they were going to provide feedback from the meeting to their senior officers for a decision. We have subsequently discussed the matter with senior staff within the Coal Authority where it was identified that the lights have been successful in securing the safe use of Drummau Road and their removal may well be premature. It has however been suggested that this issue is reconsidered by the Recovery Co-ordination Group.

(Q) The fencing at the back of Sunnyland is unstable - apparently it is on a steep incline and residents are worried it will fall on someone

It is assumed that the fencing referenced here is the private fencing to the rear gardens of No’s 13 and 14 Goshen Park which front onto Sunnyland Crescent. If so, we can confirm that the Coal Authority will shortly be removing and replacing these means of enclosure as part of their garden clearance works. A Coal Authority representative is inspecting this fence-line to ensure that it is safe until such a time as it is replaced by a suitable alternative.

(Q) The ground behind Sunnyland Crescent is overgrown – residents who have kept it maintained in the past now can’t as they are without electricity
We understand that all bar two properties have been re-occupied, but all properties have secured re-connection of their electricity supply. The land referred to is private land albeit the land owner is unknown as the land remains unregistered. Given that it is not within the ownership or control of the council and that the electricity supply has been reinstated there is no reason why residents who are concerned about this overgrowth cannot continue to undertake works as in previous years, albeit mindful that they are potentially trespassing on private land. Neither the council nor the Coal Authority considers it appropriate to intervene in this instance.

Coal Authority – Questions & Answers

(Q) Residents recalled that there had been significant disruption to the traffic due to a ‘drilling rig’ accessing the site. Whilst the residents recognised that the equipment needed to get to its destination, they did ask if The Coal Authority could try and avoid peak hours when doing so. On this particular day the residents had real difficulty getting children to school.

We are sorry to hear this. It hasn’t been raised with us before and we’d continue to encourage residents to raise concerns or provide feedback to us directly through our residents’ helpline or with Mel Beynon, our onsite Community Liaison Officer. We will continue to balance progressing the works with minimising disruption and have shared this feedback with our team and contractors.

(Q) Residents have heard rumours that work may not be completed by August 2021

We continue to encourage residents to get their information from us rather than through word of mouth. We have been clear that we were aiming for the end of August but that we would know more when all of the investigation work is complete as the geology of the site and the impact of the blow-out event make the work extremely complex. We are continuing to do everything we can to progress the works as quickly as possible and will be providing further information to residents at our next public meeting which will be held during July.

(Q) Residents were asking for a deep clean of the Sunnyland area where there remains a lot of orange silt

We are not aware of this and it hasn’t been raised with us. Sunnyland Crescent has been thoroughly cleaned. It would be helpful if a resident could provide specific details of the area they are concerned about to our residents’ helpline or with Mel Beynon, our onsite Community Liaison Officer.

(Q) There seems to be a perception from some residents that the Coal Authority are making it difficult to make claims against the £2000 and the feeling is that the organisation is not being responsive to enquiries.

This isn’t consistent with the feedback we are getting and again I’d encourage any resident who feels this way to contact us to discuss their specific concerns. As of the 1st July, the position was - 64 of 78 eligible households have requested this so far of which 38 schedules have been agreed and the others are actively being discussed and finalised. 11 gardens have been remediated with a further 13 currently underway. We have agreed with 5 homeowners, at their request, that the works be delayed until they move back into their home. All of this is provided on a goodwill basis under our Skewen Policy Policy on Skewen Flooding Response Support - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

(Q) When will the insurance packs be issued?

The household packs will be issued by the end of July. In the meantime we have offered bespoke support in discussion with insurers or mortgage providers. This can be accessed by calling our residents helpline.

(Q) Can The Coal Authority arrange a further public meeting?

We will be holding a further public meeting during July to update residents on the progress of the works and next steps. Details will be made available shortly. For other matters we encourage residents to continue to discuss them with us directly through our residents' helpline or by speaking with Mel Beynon, our onsite Community Liaison Officer.

 

Tai Tarian letter - RE: Skewen Flood and Tai Tarian Properties

Thank you for raising the issue from your meeting with the resident representatives in your recent communication with Tai Tarian. I am sorry to hear that a particular representative felt that they had been forgotten.

Although every effort has been made to communicate with our tenants about the process and duration of rectifying the flood damage, I take on board the feedback and suggest going forward that contact is made on a monthly basis as a minimum.

Below is an overview of communication and an explanation of the timescales for the work, which you are welcome to share with the resident representatives.

The flood damage caused to 11 Tai Tarian properties was significant enough to warrant an insurance claim. The number of properties, together with the expected repairs costs, is such that the works are being co-ordinated and overseen by our insurance company. They in turn have appointed a Loss Adjuster and a Surveying and Project Management specialist to oversee this major project. They will ensure compliance with all necessary procurement and tendering requirements, building regulations, legislation, as well as the implementation of the work.

The repair work required is not done on an individual property by property basis. However the insurers are working towards ensuring the properties are handed over at the earliest opportunity. Naturally, it is expected that properties with least damage will be handed over first as they require less work. It is important to remember access to the site was restricted for a period following the incident and this has added to the total timescale.

With flood damaged properties the process is time consuming with 3 main stages to the work:

Stage 1 - Strip-out: prior to work commencing all properties needed to have an asbestos survey. Following tender and contract award the strip-out work was completed mid-April to allow the dry-out phase using specialist equipment.

Stage 2 - Dry-out: For this phase times vary depending on the moisture levels at each property until they reach acceptable levels that takes a number of weeks. The dry-out phase was completed by a decontamination process, not just floors but also cavity walls etc. and this was signed off in mid-May.

Stage 3 - Reinstatement: Following the dry-out phase each property is surveyed to understand the work required and a detailed schedule of works compiled to enable a tender exercise for the work. Following the tender exercise and contract award in mid-June the reinstatement phase begins, this includes lead-in time of approximately 4 weeks and an expected contract duration of 19 weeks.

Key milestones in the communication that has been initiated by Tai Tarian include:

21/01/21 – Following the major incident daily contact was maintained for the first two weeks until either tenants could return or were decanted. For decanted tenants contact continued to ensure Tai Tarian held all the correct paperwork for items left at the properties for disposals and for storage. When asked how long the work may take it was communicated that the Loss Adjustor, although hesitant to put an exact time frame to the project at this early stage, had indicated that a project of this size and the extent of the damage meant that works were likely to take a year to complete.

19/03/21 – Contact made with all decanted tenants to explain that works were now starting in the properties to strip out and install industrial dryers. It was explained that the strip out process would take roughly 4 weeks.

31/03/21 – Contact made with tenants when delivering shopping vouchers and Easter eggs from the Acts of Kindness fund which staff established from their own financial contributions.

25/06/21 – Contact started to be made with decanted tenants to advise reinstatement works were to commence at the properties on 12/07/21 with an estimated programme of works of 19 weeks (est. completion late November 2021). As at 08/07/21 all decanted tenants have now been spoken to with the exception of one tenant who has been left a voicemail and has been sent an email.

In addition to the above some decanted tenants have had specific issues which have required more regular contact and updates.

I hope that this overview of communication and the offer to make contact on a monthly basis with decanted tenants as a minimum is helpful.