Action is needed now to prevent future flooding in St Albans

Flooding on Leyton Road

Flooding on Leyton Road - Credit: Archant

Reporting blocked gullies on St Albans roads is “an absolute waste of time” according to a district councillor who blamed recent flooding on poor maintenance.

At last Wednesday’s full St Albans district council (SADC) meeting, members praised officers, residents and parish councils for quick responses to flooding.

But Herts county council was condemned for its sluggish reaction to flooded homes and roads and minimal maintenance of local gullies.

SADC said it was concerned that the county council only cleaned out gullies every 18 months, “resulting in chronic surface water problems in large parts of the district”.

It has called upon the council to change its policy and clean the highway drains more often.

Redbourn Cllr Tony Swendell said: “The drains were the cause of flooding in Redbourn.

“We had nine houses flooded twice. I rang and tried to get the drains cleared, but no one came out.

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“I found reporting blocked gullies was an absolute waste of time.”

Cllr Chris White said that while more effort was needed to clear gullies, there were also too many impervious surfaces in residents’ front yards.

Cllr Simon Grover agreed, saying that issues such as building in flood-prone areas and the importance of having more permeable surfaces should be addressed in the new Strategic Local Plan.

Cllr Roma Mills joked: “The river that flows around the Ancient Briton junction would have been noticed by many people.”

But a county council report defended its clearing of gullies, with high speed roads tended to every 12 months and some drains cleaned out every six months.

However of the 180,000 gullies it is responsible for, 80 per cent are cleared just every 18 months.

The report said that in many streets, there was a “severe problem gaining access to gullies to maintain and clean them due to parked cars”.

Cllr Teresa Heritage, who is also a member of the county council’s cabinet, said the authority had agreed to look at the issue of flooding.

After the meeting Cllr Jacob Quagliozzi said that in light of his ward, London Colney, being one of the most affected by flooding, “there are a whole range of issues to consider such as dredging and flood plain development”.

He said the parish council’s ground staff worked “around the clock” to deploy more than 700 sandbags in just one week.

A SADC working party is being set up to examine flooding issues further.