Month: June 2017
Businesses and councillors have attacked Hertfordshire Highways as they count the cost of flood damage. ALEX LEWIS spoke to those affected. HIGHWAYS engineers are in the firing line, widely blamed for floods which swamped parts of St Albans on Friday. Torrential downpours turned many roads into temporary rivers, and devastated the Black Boy pub in Bricket Wood, with water a foot high in the bar.
Landlord Peter Dillingham said: “My manageress Julie said there was water coming through the front door.
“The fire brigade were here in 15 minutes, but unfortunately the fire engine caused a tsunami to come through the middle of the pub.
“It ruined everything. There was a foot of water in the bar, and four-and-a-half feet in the cellar. They pumped it all out – they were very very helpful. But it looks like a bomb has hit it.
“I dread to think what would have happened if it had been the middle of the night.”
The water was contaminated with sewage, and all his cellar equipment will need to be replaced, keeping the pub closed for at least five weeks. With loss of income, stock and damage to carpets, furniture and equipment, Mr Dillingham estimates his losses at between 50,000 and 60,000. He blames highways engineers for failing to keep drains near his pub in Old Watford Road, clear – all but one are blocked.
He also says a kerb opposite his pub, raised by Hertfordshire Highways three years ago, prevents water draining away, and a flood ditch is far too small. The distraught landlord, who has complained to the county council about the flooding risk on numerous occasions, said: “Hertfordshire Highways and Thames Water just blame each other, and nothing ever gets done. It is shocking.” Mr Dillingham’s criticisms were echoed by community figures from other parts of the district.
Iain Begg, from Wheathampstead, said: “There was rainwater coming down Brewhouse Hill into the High Street.
“The drains are always blocked outside The Bull pub. I have seen street cleaners sweeping rubbish straight into the gullies.”
District councillor Chris Brazier said: “We had major puddles in Colney Heath High Street. The drains can’t cope. They don’t clean them regularly enough.”
London Colney campaigner Ken Peake said: “The worst place is St Anne’s Road, which has a natural stream running underneath it.
“If they cleaned out the drains, it wouldn’t flood, but they don’t because it is too expensive.”
A county council spokesman responded: “Hertfordshire Highways inspects and cleans gullies annually and we have recently introduced a new procedure for vulnerable gullies prone to flooding, which are inspected and cleaned four times a year.
“Old Watford Road at its junction with Field View Rise has problems in periods of intense rainfall.
“This is caused by a development which was built over the gully pipe, so we need to look into a way of rerouting the pipes into the drainage system.
“We have been liaising with the landlord of The Black Boy pub. We are aware of a problem and are looking into a long-term solution, but in the interim we have drilled holes into the kerb to help ease the situation.
“This site has also been added to our vulnerable gullies list.
“A CCTV survey has been carried out in London Colney High Street to try to identify the cause of flooding. We have found that tree roots and holes made by utility companies have caused damage to the pipes there and we are looking into a solution to this.”