Failed by poor communication

Summing up perfectly the anger and frustration felt by landscapers and their suppliers across the hosepipe ban-hit regions this week, Palmstead Nurseries sales and marketing manager Nick Coslett spells out the situation thus: "Water companies have made a dogs's mess of the restrictions, saying 'yes' one minute to exemptions on turf and 'no' the next. We're right to be angry. We're the victims of 20 years of underinvestment".

Adding insult to the above injury is the shamefully poor standard of communication from several of the water companies that have imposed hosepipe bans with their landscape business customers over what exactly is permitted and what is not.

If those water companies were truly taking the plight of landscapers hit by the domestic restrictions seriously, how could they possibly leave enquiries from businesses going unanswered? Even worse, how could they get their answers wrong as so many landscape businesses have told us this week?

Yes, the efforts we are told Thames Water and others are now making to secure access to non-potable water for landscape work are welcome - but why wasn't this work done months ago? Just how long does it take a water company to prepare for a drought?

The situation is "beyond our control", says one. That may be true of the rain. But it certainly isn't true of the third of all water that Ofwat says is lost to leakage by before it reaches users. And neither is it true of planning ahead to ensure that water customers aren't hung out to dry - as it appears, in the landscape sector's case, has already been done.

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