Park Street residents threaten legal action against council after properties flooded in storm

Flooding in the yard of Autotrace Ltd in Park Street Lane - picture from Suzi Clark

Flooding in the yard of Autotrace Ltd in Park Street Lane - picture from Suzi Clark

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Home and business owners are considering legal action against county council contractors after they were left flooded once again because of blocked drains.

St Albans fire service were on hand to help - picture from Suzi ClarkSt Albans fire service were on hand to help - picture from Suzi Clark

A number of homes and businesses near Park Street Lane were left in up to three ft of water after thunderstorms hit the district on Tuesday (7) afternoon.

The residents and businesses believe the flooding was due to blocked drains along Park Street, causing water to run down the street and into their premises.

They have accused Herts County Council contractors Ringway of failing to clear the blocked drains - despite receiving numerous calls.

Among them is Suzi Clark, 63, of Rose Cottage in Park Street Lane. Her 350-year-old home suffered considerable damage for a second time after it was hit by floods in July last year.

Suzi Clark in her garden where the water came inSuzi Clark in her garden where the water came in

That caused holes in the front of her home as well as considerable damage to her first floor and antique furniture, which were repaired in February.

During the repair process a 5ft trench was dug around her property and filled with pebbles in the hope of preventing further flooding.

But it did not stop the water from pouring into her home on Tuesday, this time causing holes in the side of her house.

Suzi said there was eight inches of water in the ground floor of her home and she had to work fast to move some of her furniture and belongings upstairs.

She has now been left ‘surrounded by mud’ and unable to carry on with her daily life because of having to clear up the mess.

She has had to cancel B&B bookings at her historic home, which helps supplement her state pension, and faces an increase in her insurance premium.

Suzi, who only returned from her daughter’s wedding at 1am on Tuesday, said: “It was like a torrent of water streaming down and because it was about 3.30pm there were people picking up their children from school.

“The cars caused a tidal wave of water and I was at the front of my house telling people to slow down and they just kept giving me signs.”

A spokesman at Autotrace Ltd on Park Street Lane, who did not want to be named, said the yard was three ft deep in water.

He said the company was unable to open the following day and the flooding over recent years had had a negative impact on business.

The spokesman at the 30-year-old independent garage service anticipated it might occur again if the drains were not cleared and had contacted the council on numerous occasions.

He said: “I phoned the council about three or four weeks ago to tell them that the drains were blocked and asked them to clear them out because we were flooded in March.

“They asked if it was flooded now. I told them it was sunny now but if it starts to rain then we’re going to flood, and look what’s happened.”

The latest instance of flooding has prompted the business to consider legal action against Herts County Council and Ringway, which Suzi is also considering.

They are both in talks with their insurance companies, and if Suzi is granted legal support from her company, she said she would almost definitely take action.

Kevin Carrol, Ringway divisional manager, denied the flooding was the result of blocked drains.

He said: “We were sorry to hear about the flooding in Park Street Lane and can understand residents’ frustration. As a result of heavy downpours, like those experienced yesterday, it is inevitable that there will be some flash flooding. As the volume of rainfall is greater than the capacity of the ground and drainage system - no amount of cleaning of drains would help this.

“Our area team has been in liaison with residents and works to clear the surface water gullies at the Park Street Lane junction were undertaken back in September. Further investigation works are planned here in July to ensure the surface water drainage system is working correctly.

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