Flood-hit residents call for action over blocked culvert

NO-GO ZONE: The main road between Willington and Crook, which was blocked to vehicles due to the flood waters yesterday

NO-GO ZONE: The main road between Willington and Crook, which was blocked to vehicles due to the flood waters yesterday

First published in News Darlington and Stockton Times: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter (Darlington)

RESIDENTS in a North-East village were once again fighting the floods after a blocked drain caused gallons of water to pour into their homes and gardens.

Houses in Middleton Lane, Middleton St George, near Darlington, were under water for the third time this year after a blocked culvert in a nearby field sent water cascading towards the properties.

The culvert, in Roman Way, has been blocked for a number of years, meaning excess water cannot flow into an underground pipe and towards the River Tees – instead the water flows almost a mile through fields before gathering in the houses and gardens, in Middleton Lane.

Father-of-two Mike Walker said despite making a number of inquiries to local authorities and government agencies, no one will admit to owning the land the culvert lies on.

“We just want the culvert fixed so this doesn’t happen anymore,” he said. “If it worked properly, the water would be flowing into the River Tees, but it’s getting stuck and coming down the field, into our garden and into our house. We are a reservoir for everybody.

Darlington and Stockton Times: RISING WATER: Fire and rescue workers, helped by local volunteers, try to clear flooding from around Mike Walker’s house, in Middleton St George, near Darlington

“The ground is saturated and simply cannot hold anymore water.”

Fire crews spent 12 hours on Sunday clearing water from his property, only for the torrential rain yesterday to cause the floodwater to return.

His neighbours, Chris and Sheila Hemmins, have not yet been able to move back into their house after the September floods.

Mr Hemmins said: “We were almost finished with the redecorating after the last floods and were hoping to move back in a couple of weeks.

“It is so demoralising.

Unless someone fixes the culvert, there is nothing more we can do other then pump the water out of our homes when it floods.”

Councillor Doris Jones, ward member for Middleton St George, said: “The culvert has long been a problem because no one will admit to owning the land that it lies on.

“The way it has blocked up this time, it’s just a river down those people’s back gardens.

The fire brigade were here for hours on Sunday trying to pump the water away – who will pay for that?”

Darlington and Stockton Times: OVERFLOWING: A watery landscape looking east from Brandon to Croxdale showing how the River Brownie has burst it banks

She also said leaves which have not been cleared from pavements and drains have contributed to the flooding.

“I complained to Street- Scene at Darlington Borough Council only on Thursday that they weren’t clearing away the leaves from the pavements and that it would only need a little bit of rain to block the gullies and cause serious problems – look what’s happened,”

she added.

“They told me it’s because they don’t have any money but that’s a false economy, flooding is far more expensive to deal with than sweeping up leaves.”

A Darlington Borough Council spokeswoman said: “We are aware of concerns regarding the culvert in the area and are investigating with colleagues in the Environment Agency and Northumbrian Water.

“At this time, there is no evidence that the culvert is collapsed or blocked but, as with other areas, these systems are being subject to the extreme weather conditions.

“Regular maintenance and checks have been completed by Council StreetScene services to ensure fallen leaves have been removed from all hard-standing areas. Ownership of the culvert is currently being investigated.”

A number of roads in Darlington were also closed yesterday due to flooding, including Haughton Road, from McMullen Road to Blackett Road.

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