Angry residents in a historic spa town are in revolt after council chiefs keep shutting off an ancient well which gives them free spring water.
An 11,000 strong petition has been signed by frustrated locals following repeated closures of St Ann’s Well at Buxton, Derbyshire.
Buxton mineral water, filtered through the limestone of the nearby Peak district, is sold around the world but has historically been available to residents for free from the well.
Locals have quenched their thirst at a stone-built drinking fountain in the centre of the town for centuries.
An 11,000 strong petition has been signed by frustrated locals following repeated closures of St Ann’s Well (pictured)
The well was recently shut off for nine days as workmen tried to reconnect the water to a refurbished pump room in nearby Georgian building, known as The Crescent.
Some local residents who drink from the well have been forced to buy bottled water from shops.
Iami ‘Gary’ Ravenstone, who started the ‘Buxton Water Scandal’ petition, which calls for the well to never be turned off, said: ‘This is a free and natural spring and shouldn’t be tampered with.
‘The fact is that over the past few months since building work on the Crescent has started the well has been switched off more and more and that just isn’t right.
‘I don’t drink tap water – I don’t like the additives which are put in it – but I shouldn’t have to be forced to keep buying bottled water because our natural spring was switched off yet again.
‘We as residents of Buxton have a right to know what is happening to our natural water source.
‘It never used to need such frequent maintenance so why does it now?’
Buxton is famed for its thermal spas and is currently subject of a multi-million-pound regeneration to see its Georgian-era spa resort status revived.
Its world-famous mineral water is filtered downwards through a mile of Derbyshire limestone.
Residents gather around St Ann’s Well for a blessing ceremony in 1953. For centuries the town authorities have been obliged to maintain public access to the natural spring water
The town authorities have been obliged to maintain public access to the natural spring water under the Enclosure Act of 1772.
Visitors on TripAdvisor had sung the praises of the well.
One reviewer has written: ‘This is totally free and safe and natural. Why pay when you can get it free? Take a bottle, the locals use the large 5 litre jobbies.
‘A nice old gentleman who was local informed me that this water makes the best cup of tea ever…… First thing after arriving back home was to put the kettle on……. very true a perfect brew.
‘So please help yourself to the free spring water if passing by.’
A High Peak Borough Council spokesman said: ‘The closures this summer are to assess what needs to be done to reconnect the water to the refurbished pump room.
‘This comes as part of the project to regenerate the Crescent and celebrate Buxton’s heritage and its close association with the thermal spring waters.
‘We are confident once we have determined the best way to provide the new outlet, the supply to the St Ann’s Well will be disrupted much less frequently.
‘We understand the frustration felt by people at the frequency of the closures and we are working to minimise this and to make sure we are keeping people informed.’
High Peak MP Ruth George added: ‘I will ask the council directly for the reasons why the water supply at such a well-known Buxton landmark keeps being interrupted.
‘I will emphasise that as far as possible the well should be allowed to flow and to be used by everybody.’