Flood risk fears

Flooding at Wallgate and Eleanor Street Wigan earlier this year
Flooding at Wallgate and Eleanor Street Wigan earlier this year

CONTROVERSIAL council plans to reduce road gully-cleaning services are to be given the go-ahead.

Town hall chiefs are cutting back on the service in an attempt to reduce their spending but it could lead to a floods nightmare, according to a leading union.

The plans have now passed through a consultation period and the measures are due to come into effect in April 2013.

Unite regional industrial organiser Graham Williams explained that he has written to the elected members of Wigan Council with a warning as the number of service vehicles is being reduced to one.

He said: “I have raised the issues at consultation meetings and can only see more problems for the future.

“A cut will have a direct effect on what voters in the borough could expect for the future given the amount of rain we have suffered in the last 12 months.

“I believe that the people of Wigan deserve a service that gives them peace of mind with regard to flooding and would argue that the fleet be enhanced to meet the needs.

“There will be a significant effect on the day to day lives of the electorate. The vehicles’ duties are to maintain the gullies, keeping them clear, allowing water to be removed from areas and to not allow a build up leaves and therefore flooding. There would then be an inevitable increase in insurance premiums or properties becoming uninsurable.”

However, the council moved to reassure residents over the potential risks as emergency flood-tackling measures would not be affected.

Head of infrastructure Mark Tilley, said: “Most flooding incidents involve natural water courses, so it is the Environment Agency who are responsible and not the council.

“We will continue to provide a cost effective service despite significant budget cuts to ensure annual cleaning of all the busiest and highest flood risk routes. And from an operational point of view, the vehicle being withdrawn isn’t the best equipped to deal with flooding.

“Residents can be assured that the fault repair service, where the council responds to reports of blocked gullies and also the emergency flooding service, are both unaffected by the plans.”