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"Clear your own drains" says Wiltshire Council.

October 20, 2014 5:55 PM

Staveroton Christmas floodFollowing criticism of its complacent approach to keeping roadside drains clear, Wiltshire Council in a note to councillors claims to have improved its performance. The number of gully-gulpers has been increased from only three to only six. The council also blames the 'rural nature' of the county as a reason for drains silting up. They suggest that people should clear drains on the roads themselves if they're careful. Here's the full message from WC:

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With the advent of autumn we will inevitably see wetter weather and a greater risk of flooding.

The council is reassuring residents it is doing all it can to be ready for any adverse weather. It is also reminding community groups and residents to consider how a wet winter may affect them, and to prepare by taking the appropriate action.

This year Wiltshire Council has doubled, from three to six, the number of gully tankers emptying road gullies. By the end of December we expect to have emptied all gullies on the 'A' Roads at least once this year, with all B, C and unclassified gullies being scheduled to be emptied by March next year. With the 'A' roads carrying the greater number of traffic movements and the higher vehicle speeds we schedule the completion of these first, followed closely by the remaining roads.

The council also continues to prioritise responsive road gully emptying to manage flooding issues when they occur. This was necessary throughout the spring and summer following the heavy down pours. The nature of these heavy down pours also means that the volume of water in local areas in many cases far exceeded the normal capacity of the road drainage systems causing flooding, even though the road gullies have been emptied.

The rural nature of Wiltshire means that the road gully system can be rapidly affected by the considerable volume of soil and detritus washed into the system from adjacent fields. This will mean that many road gullies have to receive additional empties and become blocked between the scheduled emptying.

This Council understands the damage and distress caused by flooding, and works with the local communities through the Operational Flood Working Groups on improving drainage and on flood alleviation schemes, but it is necessary to be realistic about what can be achieved in dealing with these sudden and very extreme weather events. Whilst the council does do all that it can to alleviate flooding the responsibility for protection of private property does rest with property holders. We encourage residents to look at their properties with a view to considering large volumes of water impacts. This would include ensuring private gullies are clear and empty, that water flow systems are not obstructed and being prepared for flood prevention, such as having sandbags ready.

If a resident thinks a gully is blocked superficially, with leaves or grass, they can, with care on the highway, clear it themselves. If the blockage is not easy to clear or they have any other concerns, these can be reported to Wiltshire Council using one of the following methods:

  • By telephone on 0300 456 0105 - the customer services team will give you a log number.
  • On line at www.wiltshire.gov.uk/mywilts where you will be able to leave your email address and receive updates.
    • Or using the MyWilts app on a smart phone, again you will receive updates.

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Comment. This isn't good enough. One of the likely effects of global warming in Britain is more extreme weather, both in terms of the kind of winter we had last year, and of the kind of torrential thunderstorm we had in the summer. If gullies are filling up between scheduled emptyings then the schedule is wrong. If six gully tankers is not enough then we need to get more. We've known for some time that Wiltshire is a rural county. Advising people to empty drains themselves is insulting and irresponsible. Being flooded out is a horrible experience. Yes householders need to look to their own defences, and yes a serious cloudburst will over-run any drainage system, but most houses are beside roads and we need to make sure the roadside drains are kept in good condition all the time.