We might recall the government funded new repair and renew grant schemes, to provide grants of up to £5,000 to home owners, businesses and communities that were flooded. The grants were to implement flood resistance and resilience measures to minimise the impact of any future floods. They would not provide funding support for general repairs.
In fact some such grants were made to some residents of Burscough.
Of course much of this could and should be avoided if United Utilities provided what the Water Industry Act 1991 (the “1991 Act”) requires them to do. By its own admission in published High Court papers, UU wrote
“The starting point for considering UU’s powers under the 1991 Act are the duties which those powers are provided to serve. UU’s general duty is provided under section 94 of the 1991 Act, and includes a duty not just to operate a sewerage system, but to improve and extend it and to maintain the sewers:
“(1) It shall be the duty of every sewerage undertaker— (a) 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; and (b) to make provision for the emptying of those sewers and such further provision (whether inside its area or elsewhere) as is necessary from time to time for effectually dealing, by means of sewage disposal works or otherwise, with the contents of those sewers.”
“UU has an obligation to drain its areas, no matter what the population of that area or the rate of growth of that population. In order to conduct its operations and meet its regulatory requirements, UU is required to invest into building new, and maintaining existing, infrastructure sufficient for it to meet the necessary regulatory standards”.
UU actually stated that to be so in the High Court case, which it won. By what sleight of hand is UU, with the connivance of WLBC and LCC, not carrying out its Water Industry Act 1991 duties in Burscough?
As one Burscough resident wrote, to WLBC “I am left unconvinced that WLBC are prepared to give sufficient weight or consideration to the concerns of Burscough Residents, and in particular those threatened with the increased frequency and severity of flood when Planning issues are considered. It is not too difficult for anyone to realise and conclude that WLBC will not permit anything to come between them and the revenue, (which is counted in the many £millions) they are rewarded with as development progresses through Burscough.
“Your response highlights yet again, the refusal to accept responsibility for the decisions made in relation to flooding matters, I have yet to see in amongst the many replies from you the words “Yes, that is our responsibility, we will deal with it”. Just about every point raised is answered with deflecting the issue to someone else, such as United Utilities or the Environment Agency or The LLFA. You call yourself “Partners”, in my book, that means sharing responsibility and “Working closely with our Partners” does not mean blaming them or saying it has nothing to do with you so “it is not our problem”.
“The questions I asked in the e-mail were in general not related to the information provided by other parties, but were mainly based upon how WLBC views the validity of the content and processes it. The e-mail is focussed on just what level of verification of accuracy it exercises to ensure that all documentary evidence used in Planning Applications is “Sound”. This is an entirely reasonable expectation of all Residents, and at this moment in time, given your responses, you appear to have failed with astounding regularity.
“I would ask you to look at the questions I asked again, this time, please look at what WLBC’s position is rather than dismiss them as someone else’s problem.
“Your last paragraph, if I am reading it right, seems to indicate that you find addressing the concerns of flood victims rather tiresome, well it may be for you, but I can assure you it is nowhere near as tiresome as spending months repairing the damage caused by flood or enduring the anxiety experienced every time there is a storm and wondering whether it is safe to go to bed as I did yet again last night”.
The ignorance of WLBC is shown by the inclusion of this paragraph to the resident, case 2020/289 dated 17 June 2020 “If you are dissatisfied with the handling of your request, you have the right to ask for an internal review. Internal review requests should be submitted within two months of the date of receipt of the response to your original letter and should be addressed to: John Harrison, Assistant Director Planning, 52 Derby Street, Ormskirk, L39 3NU”.
Perhaps John Harrison is back at work in WLBC after taking voluntary redundancy of £90,616 some time ago?