Angry residents hit out at Yorkshire Water for inadequate drainage systems

Angry residents at risk of flooding have lashed out at Yorkshire Water, amid claims the local drainage system is inadequate.

By David Spereall
Thursday, 3rd March 2022, 4:45 am

A public meeting in Horbury Bridge on Monday saw “heated” and “firey” exchanges between residents and representatives of the company, according to those present.

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A small number of properties in Horbury Bridge are reported to have been hit by floodwater, following successive storms a fortnight ago.

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However, residents and councillors have accused Yorkshire Water of neglecting the local drainage system, which they hold partly responsible for the floods. Picture: Steve Riding.

Although the scale of the damage was nowhere near that of the floods that hit the area in 2020, Horbury Bridge and Horbury Junction are particularly to vulnerable to flooding, given their proximity to the River Calder, which burst its banks again.

However, residents and councillors have accused Yorkshire Water of neglecting the local drainage system, which they hold partly responsible for the floods.

One described the current infrastructure as “Victorian” and “archaic” and called for immediate action from the firm.

Yorkshire Water said it was “carrying out extensive investigations in the area” to see how the system could be improved, though they did not say when those are likely to be completed.

Labour councillor for Horbury and South Ossett, Darren Byford, effectively chaired Monday evening’s meeting at St John’s Church.

He said there’d been an “impasse” between Yorkshire Water and the residents.

He said: “The frustrations with residents was so clear and you have to sympathise with them.

“Yorkshire Water seemed to be of the opinion that the area is a flood zone and that therefore there’s a chance of floods.

Residents are of the opinion that if there’s no investment in the drainage systems, then this will keep happening.

“We were told these events were one in 30 years. We’ve had three in two years.

“For me, if the risk is that high, surely you’d be making investment in your infrastructure?

“Residents have been refurbishing their homes at a great cost, with the insurance payouts they got from two years ago.

“I’m not sure that that investment is being matched by the organisations involved in this.”

Coun Byford said that to say glacial progress was being made was, “a good way of describing it”.

Residents were told that Yorkshire Water will take over a pumping station that was repaired and then adopted by Wakefield Council after the 2020 floods.

The station had been unmanned since the collapse of its private operators, Carrillion, two years previously.

Its neglect was partly blamed for those floods.

Sources in the area say it is now working well and functioned helpfully during the storms of the last two weeks.

But one Horbury Bridge resident, who asked not to be named, said action on the drainage was needed now.

He said: This has been going on for years and years and years and residents are pig sick of the fact that there doesn’t seem to be any movement.

“The whole system is Victorian and not for purpose. It’s archaic and it needs updating.

“Yorkshire Water keep saying it will be sorted tomorrow. But tomorrow never comes.”

Those at the meeting have reported being told that the Environment Agency had been invited to attend by Yorkshire Water, but did not turn up.

The Environment Agency said on Tuesday it was “unaware of any invite to the event”, adding that it was helping Yorkshire Water in a “minor” capacity on works to improve the area.

A Yorkshire Water spokesperson said: “We understand that flooding is distressing and we and the local authority are currently carrying out extensive surveying and investigations in the area.

“These will help us understand the Yorkshire Water network, the operation of assets owned by third parties and the connectivity of surface water gullies in the area.

“We are also reviewing the impact flooding has on our wastewater treatment works in the area and will continue to keep local residents updated on progress.

“It is important that any customers who experience flooding in or on their properties contact us to report the issues during periods of prolonged rainfall – such as the region endured recently with three storms in the space of a week.

“This will allow us to understand the extent of flooding and gather the evidence required to help reduce the likelihood of similar events in the future.”

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