Pensioners left to clear flood-prone drains

PUBLISHED: 06:30 30 October 2015

Jocelyn Arthur and her husband have been clearing the drains along Lyndhurst Road. Ref exe 2843-44-15AW. Picture Alex Walton

Jocelyn Arthur and her husband have been clearing the drains along Lyndhurst Road. Ref exe 2843-44-15AW. Picture Alex Walton

Archant

An Exmouth grandmother, who says she and her husband are repeatedly forced to unblock drains themselves to prevent flooding of a main road, has called on highways chiefs to take action.

Jocelyn Arthur, 75, of Lyndhurst Road, says she and her husband, 71, who have both recently suffered health problems, have on several occasions in recent years had to go out and clear drains around the mini-roundabout junction with Gipsy Lane and Withycombe Road.

Most recently, heavy rain on Tuesday morning saw her husband having to go out with a garden rake for an hour to dislodge leaves and debris to prevent flood water reaching their home.

Mrs Arthur said: “We’re both very ill. We shouldn’t be doing it. I’ve been trying to get East Devon District Council or Devon County Council to do something – everybody says it’s not their responsibility.

“It’s not right. It’s one of the main roads into the town. The traffic never stops.”

Mrs Arthur says she is concerned not just about flood water reaching the couple’s garage – which contains £4,000-worth of mobility scooters – but about the safety of pupils at neighbouring Exmouth Community College and younger children attending nearby nurseries, who are forced to avoid deep water blocking the pavement.

“The worry is there will be a nasty accident one of these days when one of those kids walks out into the road.”

Mrs Arthur says the drains should at the very least be cleaned regularly - and preferably re-sited.

However, Devon County Council said it did not believe the drains needed upgrading, as the water drained away when they were cleared.

A spokesman said: “We clear urban drains every three years and react to ponding issues if it has the potential to cause a hazard to highway users.

“In the autumn, it is inevitable there will be falling leaves on the highways and we are unable to keep every drain in the county clear given that they may very well be blocked again by tomorrow.

“Devon County Council thanks all local communities who help us keep the drains clear during this time of year.”

A spokesman for East Devon District Council, which is responsible for street sweeping, said: “Our officers continually monitor the roads to ensure that staff clear the right areas at the right time. At this time of year, we do our best to keep up with leaf fall and in areas of high build-up, as well as using a road sweeper, we also send in our cleansing staff to manually clear leaves. As a further precaution, we also use a smaller sweeper on the pavements.

“However, the responsibility for cleaning/clearing drains or gullies lies with Devon County Council and often when heavy rainfall occurs, the road drains are overwhelmed, regardless of any debris surrounding them.”

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