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Questions asked after Somerset suffers further flooding chaos

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: November 23, 2012

  • Elspeth Sinclair surveys damage in Martock

  • The church tower at Othery

  • Trees weighing several tons were swept under Pulteney Bridge in Bath, where the famous weir was submerged

  • More floods yesterday

  • Rugby pitches under the viaduct at Limpley Stoke, near Bath

  • A sign outside the Radnor Arms, in Corston, near Malmesbury, which was also flooded less then three weeks ago

  • The Bristol Avon caused particular havoc, as it burst its banks for much of its length including at Lacock and Malmesbury, where Paula Webley had to pump out the Radnor Arms

  • The River Avon bursts its banks at Bradford on Avon, inundating the town on the ancient crossing point

  • The river in Malmsesbury

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As the clear-up begins again today, there is increasing anger at the authorities – from local council highways departments to the Environment Agency – for not doing more work to clear ditches, gutters, drains and gullies to stop heavy rain turning to flood misery.

One West MP even talked about the need to call in the troops to help deal with long-term flooding problems on the Somerset Levels, while from Martock to Malmesbury, homes and businesses were dealing with yet more deluges and muddy water lapping above skirting boards.

Ian Liddell-Grainger, the MP for Bridgwater and West Somerset, said he had briefed both the Defra minister Owen Patterson and the Prime Minister’s office about the state of flooding in Somerset, and said that while such extreme help was not needed from national Government just yet – they were on standby.

“I have made sure that both Owen and the Prime Minister are well aware of the severity of the problems on the Levels and in West Somerset, and I have sought assurances that should extra resources, be that manpower for the Environment Agency, more equipment or calling in the troops to assist, then these will be forthcoming,” he said.

Nearby, in Martock, district councillor Patrick Palmer criticised the county highways department for failing to heed warnings about blocked ditches and gullies that caused flooding. “The water has simply run off Foldhill Lane into East Street, and into people’s homes,” he said.

Yesterday, Elspeth Sinclair, 63, was one of the residents left mopping up and clearing out destroyed carpets and linos from yet another flood. “It flooded there just a few years ago, and we asked then for those ditches to be cleared. Nothing was done and exactly the same thing has happened again,” added the councillor.

Further north, Peter King, chairman of East Harptree Parish Council, said he is “sick to death” with “disgusting inaction” at Bath and North East Somerset Council.

After the village was left under water in May, the district council promised flood defence work, which Mr King says has never been done.

“I’ve given up so much of my time to show them what needs to be done but it’s all been a waste.”

The farmer and agricultural engineer and four workers were up to their knees in water on Wednesday as they used jackhammers and a digger to knocked down a wall to drain water from part of the village, whose cemetery had been flooded.

“I had a woman call me up in tears yesterday after the floods hit her home. Her husband’s disabled and she didn’t know what to do,” he said.

“The village flooded yesterday and it’ll probably flood again tonight,” he said yesterday.

In Wiltshire, flood waters rose all along the River Avon from Malmesbury to Bradford on Avon, with roads closed again. In Corston, near Malmesbury, the landlady of the Radnor Arms described how she had to call out to carpet fitters to abandon their work replacing carpets destroyed in a flood less than three weeks ago, when the waters rose again.

Paula Webley said: “It was an absolute nightmare, it still is. I can’t see we’ll be open by Christmas now, and we’re expecting it to flood again overnight. We’ve got to resolve this problem. People who’ve lived in this village for decades are saying they’ve never known this pub to flood once before, and now it’s happened twice in the same month. It comes in through the walls, so sandbags are useless.”

Click here for the latest Somerset weather forecast.

For the latest information on flood warnings and alerts in the region, click on the Environment Agency panel below.

SOMERSET FLOODS (21/11/2012) - VIDEO AND PICTURES

Video: Village main road turned into river as torrential rain hits Somerset

Video: Flooding causes traffic chaos and road closures in Somerset

Video: Willowbrook Garden Centre devastated by A38 flooding near Taunton

Photos: Flooding in South Somerset

Photos: Flooding around Mid-Somerset

Photos: Flood chaos on roads around Taunton and Wellington

Photos: Floods at French Weir Park in Taunton

Photos: Taunton floods - police cordon off River Tone areas

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  • oldtrucker61  |  November 24 2012, 6:28PM

    JoBest 1989 , I fully agree with your sentements about the local services , they have all done a stirling job ,, and i would not wish to take that away !! BUT !!! I think the issue here is ,, lack of proper maintainance on behalf of local authority in the first place . I lived in France for a number of years , a part of France where rainfall is high . The ditches and waterways were regularly maintained , Ditches were cleaned out twice a year , re-dug to a fair depth . Land drainage is constantly being done . The valley that i lived in had large stream running through it , but with the correct maintainance ,, i did not experience one single problem with flooding . Take a ride round our area , just look at the ditches ,, They are few and far between . One road near me was flooded the other day , just passable , but because of high banks either side, the water stayed in the road ,, the other side of the bank was a river with plenty of capacity ,, a drainage channel in the bank would have alieviated that problem . That was just one example . Its not rocket science . The trouble then is ,, because of this lack of maintainance , the water undermines the road , and we get potholes ,,, then when we get a hard winter ,,, everybody complaines saying ,, " oh the ice has cracked the road up again " ,, NO ,, Lack of maintainance by the local authority ,, Its false economy in the long run ,,, and someone should be held to acount .I would say , 50% of flooding could be avoided and therefore 50% of potholes could also . If our roads were maintained to the correct standard these problems could be avoided ,, but because of total incompetence , the cost of putting this right would now be prohibitive ,,, so they come along with a bucket of tar and fill he same potholes every other day !! rediculous . Rant over ,, untill i hit another pothole !!!

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  • johnskipper  |  November 23 2012, 1:00PM

    I completely AGREE with JoBest. They have done a fantastic job these past few days. And not just the highways people. Fire crews, police, they've all put in a real shift. Full credit and respect to them all.

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  • JoBest1989  |  November 23 2012, 12:24PM

    I completely DISAGREE that highways have not done enough! They have done a fantastic job in Yeovil and surrounding areas! My husband and his colleagues have worked day and night to clear these disasters, sometimes working 20 hours non stop. They have made things safe for people and i think its disgusting that people do not take their advise and give them abuse! I'd love to see those people working in the middle of the night in the wind and rain. Not enough credit has been given to these men for how hard they have worked! enough of the negative press! It's no ones fault this has sadly happened, but people seem to always look for somebody to blame!

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