Severn Trent water complaints blamed on severe winter
A major water firm has blamed the severe winter weather last year for an increase in complaints.
Severn Trent, which supplies water and sewer services in East and West Midlands, saw a 15% increase in complaints - the second highest in England after Yorkshire Water.
Severn Trent spokesman Matt Underwood said about 40% of the complaints it received came during the winter months.
A consumer advocate has called on the firm to "raise its game" this year.
'Get a grip'
Eve Buckland from the Consumer Council said the firm needed to improve its service and "get to grips" with the operational issues causing the complaints.
"Severn Trent can't be complacent - they can't blame the winter next year," she said.
"If we have another big freeze over Christmas we would expect a swifter response.
"We also want them to raise their underlying game - we think due to systems problems they've had operational problems that they need to get a grip on."
Mr Underwood said: "We want to reassure everyone that we're taking steps now to better prepare our people, our equipment and our systems for what could be another very cold winter."
"Right now we're making sure that our leak repair teams have access to more 4x4 vehicles over the winter period and they go through extra training on driving in icy conditions so that colleagues are better able to respond quickly and safely when things go wrong."
He advised householders to prepare against frozen pipes, leaks and bursts by insulating exposed pipes, particularly in roof spaces and next to outside walls.
Severn Trent had a total of 24,185 written complaints in 2010-11 compared to 20,895 in the previous year.
Yorkshire Water had a 23.3% increase in complaints, according to the Consumer Council for Water, while the biggest decrease in England was Wessex Water which saw complaints fall by 39.3%.