Published: 15:30, 09 June 2021
| Updated: 15:39, 09 June 2021
Disgruntled business owners in an Ashford street say they are being plagued by foul smells caused by a blocked and broken sewer pipe.
Residents have noticed a smell in North Street steadily getting worse over the last two months, causing restaurants to lose business.
Some have even said that it is so bad at times that it has forced customers sitting outside to leave or demand to be moved.
Frustrated resident Jim Davies says he first noticed the smell in April.
"That's when the latest incident of the smell happened, certainly, on and off for a few weeks before steadily getting worse," he said.
"Truth be told, my wife and I have lived here for more than 30 years and I'd say for 20 of those we had no issues.
"But over the last decade or so it's become increasingly problematic as more and more buildings on the road are converted into flats.
"We all started noticing the smell was getting worse especially at the north end, and started a log with Ashford Borough Council.
"A complaint was then sent to Southern Water on April 23, but it has continued to be a problem up to now."
It is believed that previous work on a blockage merely moved it further down the sewage pipe, which was then discovered to be cracked and leaking.
The smell is so bad that it has reportedly caused as many as five restaurants in the area to lose customers.
Justyna Deidda, who owns and runs Italian restaurant Amici with her husband Massimo, says it has been impacting the restaurant.
She said: "Yesterday lunchtime we had some customers sitting outside, they can't have lasted 10 minutes before they asked to be moved inside because of the smell.
"It's just not what we need; it would be bad at any point, but especially when we're doing our best to recover from lockdown and have limited seating inside because of the restrictions we're still under."
Work is ongoing to remove the blockage underneath North Street, which has been closed to vehicles, so the cracked pipe can be repaired.
A grate close to Amici has also been sealed; workmen told a KentOnline reporter they hoped this would limit the smell coming from underneath.
A Southern Water spokesman said: "We’re sorry about the problems our customer has experienced.
"We were not informed of any issue until May 12 and we attended within two hours and found no evidence of internal flooding and our own network was in working order.
"We understand a private contractor may have cleared a blockage within a property on May 28 but only moved the problem down the sewer and a broken pipe was then discovered.
"Civil engineers are currently on site and the repair and reinstatement of the road is expected to take a week.”