RESIDENTS in Middleton St George, near Darlington, 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 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 on 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 on Middleton Lane.

Father-of-two, Mike Walker, said despite making a number of inquiries to local authorities and Government agencies, nobody 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.

The ground is saturated and simply cannot hold any more water.”

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

%image('2249119', type="articleLandscape", alt="WATER WORLD: The River Skerne at South Park, Darlington, which took on a new look as the flood swept in")

His neighbours, Chris and Shelia 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?”

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

%image('2249120', type="articleLandscape", alt="WET: Motorists drive through flooding on Friarage Street, Northallerton")

“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.”