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Saturday, November 16, 2019

Political row over Arnold flooding continues

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Severe flooding which saw torrents of water flooding down streets and caused more than 40 properties to be badly damaged has again been the subject of a political row.

In June,  24 homes and 20 businesses around Bentwell Avenue, in Arnold, were damaged when a month-and-a-half’s worth of water fell in the space of two days.

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One resident reported water up to five-feet deep, while sheds were uplifted and carried several doors down.

It was the third time in a decade there had been flooding in the area.

A flooding report was produced by Nottinghamshire County Council earlier this month.

But senior Labour figures in Nottinghamshire say the report failed to mention the adjacent Rolleston Drive site, which had been a council depot but has now been concreted over after a fire.

They say this meant water streamed straight off it and into the nearby Upper Daybrook lagoon – essentially a large pond with drainage systems designed to store and disperse water.

The lagoon is the responsibility of Gedling Borough Council and Severn Trent Water, and now Conservatives at the borough council have accused Labour of not maintaining it well enough.

Labour said the empty Rolleston Drive site exacerbated the problem, making it more likely the lagoon would break its banks.

This site is the subject of a separate row. It is owned by the county council, which says it is seeking developers to build there. However the Labour-run borough says the county is dragging its heels, and has left the site vacant for too long.

A question was raised by Conservative councillor Michael Adams, who represents the Trent Valley ward, at a full meeting of the borough council last night (Wednesday, September 18)

He accused Labour of “blaming the weather and everybody else”.

He said: “I personally attended on site at the lagoon, even my untrained eye could see that it was thick with silt and massively overgrown with trees and large shrubs.

“It certainly did not give the impression of a well-maintained site.”

However Labour said they had been given expert advice that cutting down shrubs and trees next to the lagoon would not be likely to have any impact.

It says the lagoon is fitted with a flow control device, designed to be self-maintaining.

John Clarke, leader of Gedling Borough Council, said: “Before and after the flood, our officers inspected the site and there was no indication of any blockage or obstruction that would have obstructed the flow of water.

“Our officers cut the plant areas twice a year, regularly inspect the banks for loose materials, in October as soon as the ecology calendar allows Gedling Borough Council will clear the area in order to allow Severn Trent to enter and cleanse the central channel, which is their responsibility.

“I can make absolutely clear this flooding event was created through the volume of rain that fell on Arnold over the three days in June, and was not due to the failure of the attenuation pond, or a lack of maintenance on that site.

“Perhaps councillor Adams would like to consider the impact that the lack of development on county council land at Rolleston Drive, and its large concrete surface area also contributed to the surface water run-off issues in the Bentwell Avenue area.”

County Councillor John Cottee, chairman of the committee which deals with flooding for Notts, said the Labour Party in Gedling  were “making a habit of misleading residents”.

“The main cause of the flooding was a surface water attenuation area maintained by Gedling Borough Council, which reached full capacity and broke its banks.

“Nottinghamshire County Council as the lead local flood authority is responsible for investigating flood events and ensuring that all of the relevant authorities carried out their functions satisfactorily.

“It is clear to me that Labour politicians are pre-emptively seeking to pin false blame on others in order to downplay the responsibility of their own council regarding this incident.

“There was no intention on behalf of the county council to make this a political issue, because that does nothing to help the residents affected.

“However, I will not stand by and watch the diligent and proper work of our excellent officers being trashed by Labour politicians seeking to abdicate their own responsibility.”

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