Dirt a factor' in flooding crisis…

PUBLISHED: 12:51 26 October 2006 | UPDATED: 12:05 04 May 2010

ELY S flooding problems which have left homes and businesses under water are being compounded by the city s dirty streets. The claim comes from a leading county councillor who believes silt and debris swept into the drainage system are adding to the cit

ELY'S flooding problems which have left homes and businesses under water are being compounded by the city's "dirty" streets.

The claim comes from a leading county councillor who believes silt and debris swept into the drainage system are adding to the city's troubles.

Cambridgeshire County Cllr John Reynolds, cabinet member for environment services, said the level of street sweeping had contributed to the amount of rubbish entering the drains.

Meetings with district council officials had "failed to achieve any improvement to the sweeping regime", he said.

Cambridgeshire County Council claims it has been complaining to the district council for five years about the state of its streets after soil and grass has been left in gullies.

But East Cambridgeshire District Council has brushed off his claims, saying it is proud of its street cleaning record which has put the district in the top 25 per cent in the UK and Ely in the top 10 cleanest cities.

Chief executive John Hill claims there has never been a specific meeting or discussions to review the levels of road sweeping of areas affected by last summer's flooding.

Mr Hill said: "Our contractors have an excellent road sweeping record and Ely is regularly in the top 10 cleanest cities in the UK, a statistic we are rightly proud of.

"There has never been a specific meeting or discussions to review the levels of road sweeping of the areas affected by flooding over the summer. If we are informed that increasing the levels of road sweeping we do in the future will prevent any further flooding of the city's streets we will be more than happy to consider the request."

Cllr Reynolds was answering questions on the flooding raised by Ely district and county councillors Nigel Bell and Simon Higginson, who fear that Ely's problems will get worse

They accused Cllr Reynolds of "passing the buck" for last summer's flooding which left High Street shops and homes under water and turned roads into rivers.

Cllr Higginson said: "Street cleaning has been increased in Ely to meet cleanliness standards and now it is being blamed for adding to the flooding problem. What are we supposed to do? They are just passing the buck"

Cllr Reynolds also acknowledged that most of Ely's flooding trouble spots date back to Victorian times and the drains need renewing.

But he revealed:

# There's no chance of cleaning out the road gullies more than once a year because there is no county council cash to pay for it.

# Over recent decades new development has led to the paving and hardening of areas without the required level of investment in the drainage system.

# In the last two years there has been considerable staff turnover in the county's development control department - which would be consulted by the district on highway matters - with staff taking on temporary roles to keep the service running.

Cllr Bell said: "People shouldn't be living in fear of this flooding happening again. We need more reassurances.

"I'm not happy at all with this. We are heading for disaster and it is not going to get any better."

Engineers from Anglian Water, which has a joint responsibility with the county council for the city's drainage system, have been working in Ely with the authorities in a bid to find a solution to the flooding problem.

A spokesman said: "A report is close to being concluded on their findings and their recommendations."

A Cambridgeshire County Council spokesman said: "We are not ducking the issue - far from it. We spent £4,000 jetting in the Ely area after the recent storms.

"We have been asking for the last five years for street cleaning to be improved. We even suggested one of our highways engineers could help the district council to identify the areas which need cleaning and the traffic control needed to carry out the work.

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