FOI shows drains in St Neots not cleaned for five years

St Neots flooding in August 2020

St Neots flooding in August 2020 - Credit: Susan Sangster

St Neots mayor, Cllr Stephen Ferguson says the majority of drains in the town are blocked and have not been cleaned for five years, which he blames for the serious flooding in the summer.

Cllr Ferguson says he has seen an FOI request that shows the drains are not cleaned regularly, which he describes as "blatant neglect".

Councillor Ferguson said: “After the August flood, I asked residents to report blocked drains to CCC. In late November all of those reports were marked as ‘resolved’ and deleted from the system, despite the fact that the drains remained blocked.  

“We estimate that 150 blocked drain reports were closed in St Neots alone without action. I have had reports of similar problems in Abbotsley, Waresly and Great Gransden. 

“This is indicative of systematic neglect by Cambridgeshire County Council towards the people of St Neots and the surrounding villages.  

“The county council have failed in their statutory duty to keep drains and gullies clear of obstruction, and in doing so have directly contributed two incidents of severe flooding in the past four months.  

“They need to be held accountable emotional and financial damage that this blatant neglect has caused to residents and businesses in our town. 

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“The St Neots resident and I have set up a St Neots Drain Watch which is a community action group dedicated to holding CCC accountable for clearing drains in the town." 

When asked about the blocked drains in St Neots a spokesman for Cambridgeshire County Council referred us to a statement they released to the media in December, which read: “We are aware of the issues raised and our highways crew have cleaned the drains on the High Street, St Neots and will move onto Huntingdon Street, St Neots in the next few days. They have also arranged for all the drains across St Neots to be emptied before the end of January. 

“We’re looking into how a number of customer reports were removed from the online reporting system and trying to retrieve them so the work can be carried out. 

“With regards to the resurfacing we are aware of some issues following completion of the work and are working with our contractor to resolve and ensure they are not repeated on future resurfacing schemes.”