Residents and councillors reject report into bank holiday flash floods that 'passes the buck' on to community

The first report into the bank holiday flash floods that hit dozens of Northampton homes last year has been criticised by residents, businesses and all three cross-party councillors alike.

Wednesday, 30th January 2019, 4:54 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 7:56 pm
The floods in St Leonard's Road reached 900mm in depth in places.

In May 2018, filthy floodwater poured into the homes, businesses and takeaways of St Leonard's road and 15 other streets when a sudden thunderstorm unleashed a month's worth of rain in two hours.

A report commissioned by the county council now says the floods would have happened 'regardless' because the drains and sewers were not up to the task of handling the sudden downpour.

Read the full report produced by David Smith Associates and commissioned by Northamptonshire County Council here.But residents, businesses and councillors alike have rejected the report and say the council has 'escaped responsibility' for the floods.

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The floods in St Leonard's Road reached 900mm in depth in places.

Last year, the Chronicle & Echo reported the drains had not been cleaned for two years. Many residents shared pictures of blocked drains packed with silt and pointed to this as a big factor in the floods.

But the report - released yesterday (January 29) and carried out by David Smith Associates - rules the blocked drains would only have had a 'negligible' role in handling the water had they been clear.

"It totally contradicts what everyone in the street has been saying," says one resident Richard Short, who had to watch as filthy floodwater poured into his home in May 2018. "So now no one at the council is responsible for this happening."

County Councillor for Delapre Julie Davenport [Indp.] said: "I'm not convinced and the residents aren't convinced. The blocked drains had to have an impact. I want to see the scientific proof they weren't responsible for the flooding.

Contractors were sent to clean the street's drains the day after the flood.

"It's like the council aren't culpable for anything in this. I hope to hear from the county council about what they will be doing next."

The report also made recommendations for the future - starting with what the community can do as a 'high-flood-risk area'.

It includes recruiting community flood wardens, drawing up a plan outlining 'ownership and maintenance regimes' for the drains and finding sponsors willing to help fund improvements.

Conservative councillor Graham Walker said: "I feel angry that this report has passed the buck back to the community. Other than having sandbags in front of their houses every day what more can they do?

One resident, Richard Short, had to watch as filthy floodwater poured into his home. He calls the report's findings a 'contradiction' to what the street at large thinks.

"I feel the council has walked away. I can accept that we had an almighty downpour on the day. But they are responsible what happened. Those drains were blocked.

"They've got to look at the sewers in Far Cotton."

The flooding reached depths of up to 900mm in places after Northampton was hit by a month's worth of rain in two hours.

Surface water from across the surrounding are reportedly collected in the 'bowl' shaped east-end of St Leonard's, which the drains and sweres could not handle, the report claims.

Homes, businesses and takeaways were all damaged in the flooding.

Labour councillor Emma Roberts said: "The report will do little to make amends for their losses and the hardships faced since the flooding.

"The emphasis placed on cleaning the drains after the incident, surely suggests proactive action could have had some impact.

"There are still many drains in the surrounding area that are covered with moss and overgrown. We must make sure that if such issues occur again, we know the drains are and have been cleared and there is no reason to question their ability."

The report also recommends for Northamptonshire Highways to highlight streets at risk of floods and clean their drains more often.

There are 15 more reports to be published baout flooding across Northampton during the bank holiday.

The report has given the blocked drains on the street the all-clear and says they role in the flood was 'negligible'.