Councillors’ fury 
at lack of answers

Floods at Swaton in 2012. EMN-160314-120041001
Floods at Swaton in 2012. EMN-160314-120041001

Anger erupted at a meeting called to discuss flooding problems in North Kesteven because the Anglian Water delegates were unable to provide answers to district councillors’ questions.

Coun Ian Carrington, who had cut short another meeting and driven 60 miles because of the flooding agenda, was unable to suppress his fury. He told Wednesday’s special meeting of the environment overview and scrutiny panel: “I am appalled at the gross discourtesy of the company.

“No one has bothered even to read the reports outlining our concerns - let alone come up with the detailed answers we are seeking. I am profoundly disappointed - this whole exercise has been a complete waste of time.”

Similar outrage was sounded by Coun Terry Boston. “Anglian Water couldn’t care less,” he fumed. “Even though residents are at risk, they haven’t shown one iota of interest.

“I apologise if I am being abrasive, but they have sent us officers who are unprepared - in effect - who are trying to fob us off.

“We need both an apology from the company and an assurance that, next time, someone more senior will be sent.”

It proved an uncomfortable couple of hours for Anglian Water customer liaison officers Tiff Levick and Robbyn Guild, whose answers to questions were often confined to “I’ll have to check that”, “I need to investigate” or “I’ll get back to you on that”.

It had been hoped that they might have been able to offer assurances on recurring problems in many Sleaford area villages of blocked drains, flooding, sewage seeping from manholes, clogged dykes and backflow into WCs when the water table is high.

The officers variously attributed some of the issues to other parties - for instance, internal drainage boards and riparian landowners for failing to maintain dykes.

The company could not be held responsible, they insisted, for inadequate cesspits and private drainage systems, nor for individuals who illegally connected surface water outlets to foul water drains. Heavy rain was blamed for overloading some village pumping stations which Ms Guild described as being vulnerable to hydraulic overload or power cuts.

Ms Guild told the meeting that CCTV drain surveys were undertaken where required and that maintenance schedules were sufficiently flexible to be made more frequent at times of emergency.

Quizzed by Coun Gill Ogden about a main sewer seeping into the garden of a property in Billinghay, Ms Levick said the company was considering applying an external seal but only so long as it could be confident it would not create a pollution problem elsewhere.

A catalogue of villages affected by flooding

Water company cautiously outlines the future