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Hayle Sewage Row
8:02am 31st August 2014
A Hayle woman is refusing to pay her water bills after her home sank into the ground.
Mel Sheridan reckons a sewage leak and a crack to a separate 18th century pipe caused the subsidence.
She says it has been six years of 'living hell' getting it sorted out.
At one point she was telling children not to walk past, as the house teetered: "My relationship with my son has suffered because I was just not present with him for four years I was in such a state of anxiety. I gave up my career as an artist. The last thing I could think of was painting. I was making up to 200 calls a week, every week, for a year and a half.
"There was big movement in the house. The ceilings were breaking away from themselves, there were big hairline diagonal cracks going across the walls upstairs. The windows would stick and wouldn't shut. Eventually the house was so dangerous that I was going to schools and telling them not to let kids walk past the house because it was so dodgy."
Water bosses say there is no evidence a sewer leak caused the problem but they have compensated Ms Sheridan over customer service. She told Pirate FM: "If I was looking for compensation I would be looking for £100,000 for loss of earnings, emotional injury. I just want a refund."
Ms Sheridan is asking for a refund of £4,377 and says if it is not made she won't pay until she has recouped it: "If I sell a painting and it ends up in their hands broken I have to replace it or refund them. I'm not paying my bill. They will have to put me in prison. I am not paying it."
A spokesperson for South West Water said: "We have investigated Ms Sheridan's claims and have been unable to find any evidence to substantiate her claim that our sewer has caused subsidence to her property. We have been in correspondence with her insurers and denied liability for the subsidence.
"We understand there is a further pipe in the vicinity of the subsidence which would appear to be an old culverted watercourse not belonging to South West Water.
"We recognise that during our investigations Ms Sheridan did not receive the level of customer service that we aim to give our customers. For this reason only we have offered her a one-off payment as a gesture of goodwill."
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