Cheltenham’s phantom flusher strikes again

Wednesday 30th December

The size-14 knickers from Tesco are the fifth item of clothing to recently arrive at Severn Trent’s Hayden Sewage Treatment works in Cheltenham, after being flushed down toilets somewhere nearby.

Severn Trent’s sewer blockages lead, Grant Mitchell, said: “Over the last four months we have found multiple pieces of clothing at our treatment works that simply shouldn’t be there, including four pairs of pants and a sock. I don’t think I need to tell anyone that putting your underwear down the toilet is a bad idea, and the owners of these items are lucky that they didn’t cause a blockage or flooding for them or their neighbours.

“Having sewage flooding inside your home due to sewers being blocked is one of the most horrible things that can happen to you, and we really don’t want our customers to suffer in this way, especially when it’s entirely preventable. The drains that take waste water away from your home are only a few inches wide and are only meant to take the 3Ps – pee, poo and paper.

While toilet roll breaks down when it gets wet, things like sanitary products, wipes, or in this case Tesco’s knickers, do not and can easily get stuck in smaller drains.

Severn Trent has found plenty of unusual things in the sewers that shouldn’t be there, including, false teeth, toys, tennis balls and cutlery. 

Grant added: “Many customers may not realise that they are responsible for the waste pipe running away from their home until it either crosses the property boundary or meets with another waste pipe or sewer. Unblocking or repairing this section of pipe can be costly, but avoidable if you’re careful about what you put down your toilet or your sink. So we recommend that you get yourself a bin in the bathroom and use that rather than the toilet.” 

If you do run into problems, either slow drains or a blocked sewer which is Severn Trent’s responsibility you can report it at or by calling 0800 783 4444.