A WATER company was left feeling flushed after a clamping firm swooped to trap them while they were repairing a leak.

The emergency response vehicles were sent out by Essex and Suffolk Water to repair the leak at flats in West Road, Southend.

But just as they had finished the job, LBS Enforcement swooped, clamping the vans, blocking them in and charging £1,100 per van to get them released.

Teri Dewey, who works for the flats management company, said: “It’s absolutely awful. I’m here with the poor water people.

“There’s been a major water leak. They were doing no harm on this land and just leaving when LBS jumped out of a van in seconds and clamped them.

“They need to go to other jobs and now these people have blocked them in. They don’t have the money to pay them.

“I think it’s disgusting what LBS has done.”

The vans were clamped because they had parked on private land by the flats, which is monitored by LBS.

Warning signs had been put up on the land, but the contractors had parked there to ease congestion along the road which was being used as a diversion route from a nearby accident.

Ms Dewey added: “They didn’t give any warning and they haven’t been sympathetic at all. They just said, ‘you shouldn’t park here’. This is an emergency.

“I’ve never known anything like it.”

LBS arrived just before 2pm yesterday as the workers were preparing to leave having dug up the pavement to put in a new stopcock.

Police were eventually called in and a stand-off began with the contractors refusing to pay LBS.

A spokesman for Essex and Suffolk Water said: “We appreciate we were parked on private land but we did this because we were responding to a call that a home was flooding.

“We were trying to assist, which is obviously time-sensitive and needed somewhere safe to park nearby.

“Two contractors’ vehicles working on our behalf have been clamped by LBS.

“We are liaising with LBS to get them released.”

The stand-off ended at about 5.15pm when the whopping £2,200 fee was paid in full.

One of the contractors, who did not wish to be identified, said: “We had to pay the full fine to be released.

“It worked out at £1,098 per vehicle, so about £2,200 in total.

“Police couldn’t help at all unfortunately.

“It was the only available place for us to park without causing major traffic chaos.

“We were just about to pull off to do another job when they arrived.

“LBS didn’t sympathise with us at all.”