North Walsham residents in last-ditch bid to stop flooding misery

Householders who have suffered the misery of repeated flooding are demanding an end to 'Heath Robinson' drainage arrangements and constant buck-passing by the authorities.

Residents in and around Manor Road in North Walsham are pushing for action to end more than a decade of deluge disasters which they say cause them constant anxiety and have devalued properties.

The residents are being backed by Paul Morse, county councillor for North Walsham East, who says the time has come for Anglian Water (AW), Norfolk County Council and North Norfolk District Council to sit down together and look at the area's drainage problems as a whole.

Mr Morse said the county was responsible for getting surface water off Manor Road, AW looked after it in drains under the road and the district had to make sure ditches were cleared.

But this piecemeal arrangement led to confusion and endless delays. He added: 'It's a crazy situation - a completely Heath Robinson system. This road has been a flooding hotspot in all my six years as a councillor but it's so difficult to get the authorities to take responsibility.'

But Mr Morse praised AW which had agreed to undertake a survey to find out whether there was adequate drainage capacity in the area, and whether any pipes were cracked or blocked. He is mystified by a 'blind' ditch running parallel with Manor Road which leads nowhere, so that water must eventually seep into the surrounding areas.

Residents believe problems became worse after the nearby Brick Kiln Road estate was built in the early 1990s.

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Eddie Bullimore said after heavy rain thousands of gallons of water rippled down Manor Road and, because of blocked and winding ditches, much of the water gathered at the bottom, threatening homes.

He has to dig gullies outside his home after downpours, to keep the water away and says paint is peeling off his walls. Mr Bullimore has collected 44 residents' signatures on a petition calling for action because they are fed up with being 'pushed from pillar to post' every time they try and get help.

He and fellow Manor Road resident Christine Dawson claim poor drainage has meant that the area's water table has risen considerably in the past two years and is now only about a foot below the surface.

Miss Dawson, who has been flooded five times since 1999, has spent over �5,000 on an outdoor pump to get rid of water from around her house, having new drains laid, and downstairs walls sealed.

'It makes me feel permanently tense whenever there is heavy rain and the value of my property has now dropped so much,' she said.

A county spokesman said they had cleared roadside grids before Christmas and had not been aware of problems since.

The government had given Norfolk County Council the co-ordinating role in the production of surface water management plans and they were well advanced in Norwich and west Norfolk, and under way in Great Yarmouth.

'Preliminary discussions have taken place with North Norfolk District Council about the production of such a plan for north Norfolk, and North Walsham has already been identified as needing particular attention,' he added.

Antony Innes, of Anglian Water, said they were working with both councils to address residents' concerns and their on-going sewer survey was due to be completed shortly.

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