Campaign for flood prevention in Hunts ‘forgotten village’

Mike Coles, a resident in Woodwalton for more than 52 years, is campaigning for better flood prevention in the village.

Mike Coles, a resident in Woodwalton for more than 52 years, is campaigning for better flood prevention in the village. - Credit: Mike Coles

A man campaigning for 10 years for better flood prevention in one area of Huntingdonshire says he is living in “the forgotten village”. 

Mike Coles, a resident in Woodwalton for more than 52 years, had his home wrecked by floods at Christmas. 

The 77-year-old blames lack of maintenance by local authorities in clearing gullies and drains.

Mike Coles, a resident in Woodwalton for more than 52 years, is campaigning for better flood prevention in the village.

Mike Coles, a resident in Woodwalton for more than 52 years, is campaigning for better flood prevention in the village. - Credit: Mike Coles

"Absolutely nothing has been done to help alleviate our problems, we are the forgotten village,” Mr Coles told The Hunts Post.

It comes after 10 years of campaigning to get better cleaning procedures in place – and now Mr Coles has had enough. 

He has composed a letter to Cambridgeshire County Council and local newspaper editors to raise awareness of the village’s situation. 

“Six months and several days on since the December floods and we are still in a mess. 

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“Even when we had heavy rain last week, it would have only needed to be half and inch higher and it would have been in the house. 

“This is all due to lack of maintenance – and I am just sick and tired of campaigning but I do not know what else to do.” 

Photos show what happened in the floods of December 2020

Mr Coles says the floods at Christmas left his family “devastated” - and six months on they are still yet to have their carpets replaced. 

Cambridgeshire County Council say they are waiting on their contractor to complete maintenance works in the area imminently. 

He continued: “We have been living out of boxes for six months. 

“It is the second time that the house has been redecorated, with new carpets due to be fitted next week – six months on. 

Mike Coles, a resident in Woodwalton for more than 52 years, is campaigning for better flood prevention in the village.

Mike Coles, a resident in Woodwalton for more than 52 years, is campaigning for better flood prevention in the village. - Credit: Mike Coles

“I have built my own flood defences on the back doors and they are bolted up – all we need is another storm and we are flooded again. 

“We were flooded due to lack of maintenance, not just heavy rain. 

“I have not seen the drains cleaned in 10 years and I am the longest resident living here.  

“You just need to look at the state of them to know nothing is being done. 

“We know that more houses could be built around here but they cannot do that without the infrastructure and proper maintenance.” 

Mr Coles said that the extreme weather at Christmas led to what they feared would happen after years of minor flooding. 

"We’ve had floods over the last 15 years, but nothing as bad what hit in December,” he added. 

“I cannot do this alone, I need someone to come here and see our problems, but I’m just accused of causing trouble. 

“When the going gets tough the authorities just don’t want to know. 

“But it’s got to stop now. I’ve gone down all the routes of contacting MPs and councillors but then people move on and I’m back to square one again.” 

A Cambridgeshire County Council spokesperson said: “We are aware of Mr Cole’s concerns and a member of Council staff met with him last week to discuss the issue. 

 “We are waiting on our contractor to complete maintenance works on nine highways drains in the area, which we hope will improve localised issues with surface water drainage.  

“The county council’s remit does not extend to maintenance of ditches across Woodwalton, this is the responsibility of local landowners as well as the parish and district councils.” 

Read our Hunts Post Special Report on flooding in Huntingdonshire

Frustrated St Ives resident Theresa Norris, also contacted the newspaper to express her worries over flooding. 

She added: “I know that the rain was extreme over Christmas but this has been ongoing for years. 

“They [county council] have done CCTV and cleaned the drains but the first lot of rain we had last week and we get the message that the drains are full up again. 

“I just don’t know what the problem is or where to turn to next.”

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