Audlem flooding

Residents in parts of rural South Cheshire hit by repeat flooding since October fear they are being ignored by Cheshire East Council, writes Stephen Topping.

The area was hit by heavy rain throughout the autumn, but drainage is still struggling to cope with blocked gullies leaving nowhere for surface water running from farmland to travel.

Cheshire East Council insists it is tackling the problem.

But Coxbank resident Gary Meadows is disappointed at the council’s response which he suggests is nothing new.

And both residents and ward councillors say their communities are being kept in the dark, claiming the local authority is failing to contact affected residents or respond to their reports.

He said: “Every year, at least for the last three years, the village entrance has been flooded completely across the road.

“There’s only one viable way in and out of the village, so this means that if you wish to walk out of the village, you have to have a minimum of a half-mile detour.

“Our properties are virtually unsaleable now – I can’t put my property on the market because you can’t get to it. There needs to be a resolution to the problem.

“We appear to be ignored because we are on the fringe of Cheshire East, we don’t have a large population, but that doesn’t mean to say we don’t have the same level of service residents have elsewhere.”

Drains in the area have failed to cope with each heavy rainfall of the autumn that followed the initial floods.

And Mr Meadows is concerned any melting snow or ice this winter could cause major disruption.

He says Coxbank’s elderly residents are particularly affected, along with schoolchildren who struggle to get to their usual school bus stop and have to cross the busy A529 at a blind spot in Green Lane as a “wholly unsuitable alternative”.

He added: “It’s just not an acceptable situation to have to put up with.

“I believe the drains are collapsed and full of tree roots, and they are approximately 150 years old.

“They are not fit for purpose and the council needs to come along, dig the drains up and put some new drains in.

“Coming along and doing minor remedial work does not solve the problem, you are just throwing good money away because as soon as it rains it just floods again.”

Cllr Rachel Bailey, Conservative CEC member for Audlem, says she has “enquiries coming out of my ears” from rural residents about flooding and drainage.

The former council leader is particularly concerned about residents in Burleydam and Broomhall whose septic tanks are overflowing following floods – leaving them unable to use their bathrooms as usual – and disappointed about the slow response to residents from CEC.

“My embarrassment is that we are not responding,” she said.

“Is it a new phenomenon? No, but in the past we have had meetings to discuss the problem.

“Sometimes it worked and sometimes it did not, but now there is silence on these matters.

“If there is an issue with the council it is not just the administration that feels it – it is all members of the council, because we are representatives of CEC and we have a duty to maintain its reputation.”

Cllr Bailey is also concerned safety of schoolchildren being forced to cross the A529 to get on the school bus in Coxbank is being overlooked, and suggests the council is prioritising other areas hit by flooding.

“I believe there is a conflict of policy here that is putting children at risk because of council inaction and a failure to re-prioritise,” she added.

Cllr Janet Clowes, CEC member for Wybunbury, has similar concerns about flooding in her ward – particularly in Mill Lane, Blakenhall, where homes were hit by surface water from adjacent fields.

Mill Lane flooding
Mill Lane flooding

The Conservative group leader says it took more than six weeks for CEC to respond when highways workers partially pumped water from the road in the first week of December, but further rain meant Mill Lane was flooded again just hours later.

Cllr Clowes added: “We are now at the stage that Mill Lane is now permanently flooded on the Yew Tree Farm section, but other sections are now also flooding on a regular basis with all drains now blocked either entirely or to a significant extent.

“The road surface is disintegrating, and mud and debris is creating a significant slip or ice hazard depending on the temperatures.

“What is also of deep concern is the fact that to date, the homeowners of flooded property on Mill Lane End have still not yet been contacted.”

CEC acknowledges parts of South Cheshire have been badly hit by flooding and the council insists it is working hard to resolve any problems across the area.

It also says it is engaging with residents in the area, and will follow up on work that needs to be carried out following initial drainage checks.

Labour Cllr Brian Roberts, CEC cabinet member for highways and waste, said: “Flooding in the south of the borough was extensive and affected Nantwich, Audlem and many isolated rural areas.

“The response by the council’s highways team to the multiple reports of areas affected has been immediate, with follow-up investigations prioritised according to prevailing circumstances.

“The areas highlighted have been either attended to and dealt with or have been subject to investigation which will, where necessary, result in additional works to resolve problems.

“Engagement with local residents has been undertaken, where we have been able to, and will continue during the recovery phases of these unfortunate, and extreme, flooding events.”

One Comment

  1. We in Hatherton are suffering too. For over two years water has run off the Crewe Road up to our front door step and flowed to our back door, into our garage and on one occasion in to our house. We use sand bags front and back when raining hard. The work Highways has done has had some effect but we still have serious problems. Grids on side roads are not being cleared as they once were so are blocked leaving the water in huge puddles half way across the road.

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