Ask yourself “How Would I Deal With This Coming Up The Middle Of The Road To Flood My Home In The Middle Of The Night?”
Of all the issues we try to expose in West Lancashire, including the Beacon Park Golf Course landfill rip-off, the obscene travel discrimination against elderly and disabled residents, the missing but paid councillors, the worst must surely be that of raw sewage surfacing in homes and streets in Burscough and to a lesser extent in parts of Halsall.
The Burscough issue is continually fought by the Burscough Flooding Group (BFG) that is opposed relentlessly by the statutory bodies who, you might think, are obliged to change the Victorian standards of flood relief to 2020 levels?
“Burscough has increasing flooding problems due to the cronic underinvestment and ambivalence by our Flood Risk Managment Authorities (FRMA) who are jointly United Utilities, Lancashire County Council, West Lancashire Borough Council and the Environment Agency” states BFG. They may as well ask, how long would it be before Mr Steve Mogford Chief Executive Officer of UU base salary of £650,000 [the total compensation of Steve Mogford at United Utilities Plc is £2,269,000] Cllr Driver, of LCC, Jacqui Sinnot-Lacey of WLBC, and Sir James Bevan
Environment Agency Chief Executive salary £210,000, suffer sewage pouring over their doorsteps?
What follows are extracts from a long letter from the Burscough Flooding Group (BFG) vice chairman to MP Rosie Cooper outlining the problems with our FRMA.
“Dear MP Rosie Cooper
“Thank you for your letter dated 9th June 2020, your Ref. GD/ZA51770, regarding the response from Mr Steve Mogford (Chief Executive Officer of UU). I will make brief comment on his letter, but as mentioned in a previous e-mail to you, myself and Burscough Flooding Group will make a more comprehensive comment once replies have been received from all to whom you originally wrote.
“There has been no comment received as yet from Jacobs [who were paid to compile a report on Burscough’s flooding problems], and as you highlight in your letter, none from Lancashire County Council. It is accepted that the Covid 19 issue has caused major disruption to the Authority and it is inevitable that things would be delayed. This is quite definitely not an ideal situation, as “Planning Applications are being passed in the absence of a “Sound” Surface Water Management Plan”.
“I have serious doubts as to whether the numerous concerns raised by BFG will be properly addressed. As yet, none of the replies (from WLBC, the Environment Agency and United Utilities) acknowledges that any of the concerns we raise may be valid. There are too many issues raised for it to be possible that all of them are unfounded, and this should ring alarm bells for anyone who genuinely wants to get to the truth.
“If there is denial at every stage, then this indicates that there may be good reason to doubt the integrity of the responses provided, in so far as they only present one side of an argument, when, if they were genuinely representing the best interests of all Residents, some of the concerns would be accepted. It does appear as far as the Flood Risk Management Authorities are concerned, that admitting any errors is completely unacceptable, even in the face of such strong evidence.
“It is quite possible this is brought about, not by taking a balanced view of the facts, but is more to do with corporate deniability and having an eye on Litigation. In brief response to Mr. Mogfords’ letter, he is clear money received from Housing Developments will not be used to resolve existing issues. It would be helpful at some stage to have United Utilities declare all the existing and historic problems so they can be set against information from other sources to measure whether there are inconsistencies.
“He mentions a 1 in 30 year event. At Briars Hall, United Utilities stated they would be reducing investment in Burscough from 1:30 down to a 1:10 year event. There appears to be an admission that the funds received from Local Development will be used regionally rather than locally, and given the correspondence we have had, this is very likely to mean none of it will be used here in Burscough.
“None of this deals with the fact that United Utilities are required by Law under Section 94 of the Water Industry Act 1991, to provide, improve and extend such a system of public sewers (whether inside its area or elsewhere) and so to cleanse and maintain those sewers [and any lateral drains which belong to or vest in the undertaker] as to ensure that that area is and continues to be effectually drained”.
“If raw sewage is spilling out onto the pavements and roadways of Burscough, covering productive farmland and entering homes every time there is heavy or sustained rainfall, then surely they are failing. No one is making them address their responsibilities to Burscough Residents and it seems we are quite happy for them to continue to take the profits but not the responsibility.
“Mr Mogford also states the “Yew Tree Farm Project’ should ensure no detriment is caused to the operation of the wastewater network.” This is only going to be achieved by diverting the surface water into the already failed Watercourses.
“We have had assurances that there will be no risk involved with this, but it is ‘Theory’, the facts are quite different. Please take 30 seconds to view this video of the water running up the middle of the road towards our homes in Crabtree Lane. This happened on 5 occasions between 31st July 19 and 9th Feb 20. Please judge for yourself whether the ‘Theory’ is “sound” and is working as we were told it would.
“Ask yourself, “How would I deal with this coming up the middle of the road to flood my home in the middle of the night”.
“Given that United Utilities plans in 2012 and 2015 to make improvements never materialised, I hope no one is convinced that this latest ‘Project’ will either get started, or if it does, get completed within the next 10 years unless another Governing Body ensures it does. United Utilities’ number one priority is ‘making money’, everything else is a secondary issue.
“As regards the late response from Lancashire County Council, the majority of issues raised have been diverted back to the LLFA by the other RMA’s responses to you. None of them accept any responsibility but are happy state that responsibility lies with the LLFA. I am not confident that you will receive a satisfactory explanation from them when they do finally reply.
“My personal view is based on my observations rather than the opinion of others, and was formed long before I had any flooding issues, is that “Talking is cheaper than doing”. I don’t believe that the Lead Flood Authority was ever meant to be successful, because if they were, then to address all the problems they identify would be prohibitively expensive. So they were set up to fail, understaffed, under-funded and under resourced. If they ever get close to resolving an issue, then it is highly likely that there will be a ‘Reorganisation’ or Members of staff will transfer or leave their post, so that the whole process has to start again. I don’t think, given your occupation and experience that I need to spell out the many ways that Government or Local Authorities can avoid or defer paying to get the problem sorted out.
“BFG have been engaging with the LLFA for over 4 years now, and as was expected when we first met, there has not been a spade in the ground, nor does it look like it will happen any time soon, however, there is no shortage of progress when it comes to Development.
“Thank you again for your continued efforts and enquiries in this matter.
Yours sincerely, Bernard Webster – Vice Chairman Burscough Flooding Group”.