In a hamlet plagued by sewage problems for the last 20 years, homeowners frequently can’t use their toilets for up to 11 hours at a time.
This shocking fact was revealed as residents of Bromley Green count down the hours to a meeting with Southern Water, which they hope will finally bring an end to their suffering.
Brendan Morrissey, of Bromley Green Road, is often woken in the early hours by the sound of filthy liquid bubbling in his toilet when a night of heavy rain causes water to back up into the pipes in his house.
Mr Morrissey, who lives with his wife, knows the noise signals the start of a long period when the couple will be unable to flush their loo or have a shower and are often forced to drive to a supermarket to visit the toilet.
The 57-year-old accountant, who was unaware of the problems when he bought the house two years ago, said: “The toilet fills to the top and it percolates. I’m often woken up at about 4.30am when my en suite resembles something from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. It bubbles and rattles the plumping.
“I then have to ring a call centre and ask for the tanker to come out but I know it will be about 11 hours before they clear the backlog and I can use the toilet again.
"Even prisoners in prison can use the toilet when they want to.
“My life enjoyment is minimal as I spend most of my time wondering whether to flush the toilet or use the shower. It becomes an obsession.
"I often end up going to Tesco to use the toilet because at the end of the day you can’t wait 11 hours. About a third of the people in the road are elderly and they might not be able to do that.”
The problems occur when it rains heavily as the nearby pumping station cannot cope with an excess of surface water and fails.
Several homes in Bromley Green Road have “pods” in the garden, which collect waste water from the houses and are emptied by a tanker every few hours in wet weather.
However, Mr Morrissey revealed the tankers stop visiting at about 11pm and the pods frequently overflow, spilling sewage into gardens and onto the public footpath and road.
He added: “Seeing a poor child on her new bike on Boxing Day last year, cycling through raw sewage water from the overflowing pods, was the last straw for me. It’s just outrageous.”
Ward member Cllr Jane Martin said: “The residents have had an awful time since the system was installed 20 years ago. Every year with the onset of heavy rainfall, residents suffer backed up toilets, overflowing sewage pods, flooding and unusable showers and other facilities.
“Matters came to a head on Boxing Day 2013 when I was contacted by residents unable to use their toilets or showers. This unacceptable situation, brought about by an out-of-date vacuum sewage system that malfunctioned and that was never built to accept surface water, continued well into February 2014, with residents having round the clock tankers parked outside their homes to empty sewage pods as they overflowed.
“The aim of the meeting is to obtain an understanding of the exact issues and form a clear plan and timetable to solve the problem, with an immediate interim solution so residents can enjoy their homes and the Christmas period without fear of a recurrence of these problems.”
Southern Water spokesman Leilah Nicola said: “The sewer system serving Bromley Green has been impacted by high groundwater levels after heavy rainfall, particularly last winter, which was the wettest on record in the UK.
“Surface water drainage issues have also affected the network and we have been working closely with Kent County Council to ensure that the local surface water system is working as effectively as possible.
"Even prisoners in prison can use the toilet when they want to" - Brendan Morrissey
“We are working hard to respond to the current issues as quickly and effectively as possible, for example, deploying tanker lorries to remove excess water from the sewers and maintain services for customers.
"Of course, this includes keeping in close contact with customers in the area, as well as community representatives and Damian Collins MP. We remain fully committed to resolving these issues in the long term."
Southern Water and Kent County Council representatives, MP Damian Collins, Cllr Jane Martin and other Ashford councillors will meet residents at a public meeting in Bromley Green Road Village Hall, Bromley Green Road, from 6pm tomorrow.
Everyone is welcome, there will be an opportunity to ask questions and the MP and borough councillors will hold a pop-up surgery in The Blue Anchor pub in Hamstreet Road from 5pm.