Category Archives: Flood Watch

Which Water Company Wrote “No Amount Of Pollution Is Acceptable To Us”

No, not United Utilities, but Southern Water

having been issued with a formal warning by the Environment Agency (EA) after partially-treated sewage was discharged into the water at Chichester Harbour.
The EA stated “Southern Water is very aware of the seriousness with which we view the incident”. You may note Southern Water stated “While the impact to public health was very low, no amount of pollution is acceptable to us and we are working hard to reduce and eventually stop all incidents”.

Dr Ian Hendy, coastal marine ecologist, University of Portsmouth, and lead science advisor to the ‘Help Our Kelp’ project, said the release of sewage water would have “a significant impact to the many marine animals and wildlife in this highly protected area”.

Perhaps United Utilities and others involved in flooding and uncontrolled sewage discharges in Burscough, Aughton and Ormskirk might receive formal warnings and even prosecution if enough pressure is applied as in Chichester? Don’t residents of Crabtree Lane in Burscough suffer “a significant impact in their badly protected area”? It’s not kelp in Burscough it’s crap in homes!

Rosie Cooper MP Secures Drainage Improvement Works At Aughton Primary School?

Our MP Rosie Cooper is reporting she has secured a commitment from Lancashire County Council to undertake significant improvement and unblocking work on drains near and under Town Green Primary School in Aughton. Below is our recent undisputed evidence 
of total neglect by LCC, who are the Local Lead Flood Authority. They’ve responded to MP Rosie’s repeated concerns about flooding at the school, which have also been brought to their attention by Headteacher Nick Huxley.
The storms in February and August caused flooding right through the school and forcing it to close, Rosie Cooper has been in regular correspondence with LCC to ensure they took their responsibility seriously and ensure they undertake the investigative work required of them.

Rosie has commented that “I am pleased that after months of wrangling with Lancashire County Council they have finally undertaken the investigation work which has identified a series of improvements under the school and through private land. This work is necessary to unlock the proper flow of surface water through this particular drainage system.

“The Headteacher, staff, parents, pupils and local residents have all been clear for some time that there are issues with the drainage system in this area, while the school have already spent over £10,000 trying to resolve this themselves. It is disappointing that LCC have let the school flood on so many occasions before taking this action.

“LCC are now working on their action plan which will be available next month with further works in the public highway that may also be of benefit downstream from the school on Town Green Lane also under consideration. The council have further committed to ‘unravelling the remaining complex network of drains in the area’ and identify where additional investment might be worthwhile. I will continue to monitor the situation to ensure that meaningful progress is made”.

But why do we always have to wait for these highly paid council jobsworths and our useless elected county members to do nothing until flooding causes so much misery. It’s not just Aughton, it’s Ormskirk and Burscough, regularly. Surely the quicker we are free from this LCC and making local decisions for local people the better!


No Merit In Photoshoots With Flood Victims?

The WLBC great and the good take photoshoot opportunities galore of big spending developments as you will see below. They don’t expose themselves to the nasty sewage invading homes in Crabtree Lane Burscough, or elsewhere in West Lancashire. It’s first class official bullshittery down to a fine art! They give the public the brushoff!

On 30 July 2020, in response to a message from WLBC, Gavin Rattray Secretary of the Burscough Flooding Group wrote an Open Letter

To the WLBC Chief Operating Officer

“Dear Jacqui Sinnott-Lacey and Ian Moran

“Thank you for your email. Only WLBC as our Local Planning Authority, has a specific duty to prevent development driven surface and groundwater water flooding onsite and downstream in Burscough from increasing indefinitely.

“As 2019/1182/ARM and 2020/0293/CON are a fait accompli, can you at least reassure residents now expecting increased flooding, that WLBC will discard its hard hats and rigger boots long enough to undertake the investigations requested into the serious issues raised in May 2020?

“Yours faithfully. Gavin Rattray – Secretary Burscough Flooding Group

Two months later, on 28 September 2020 “Dear Mr Rattray

“Thank you for your most recent e-mail. While I understand your real concerns the applications you mention have been carefully considered.

“The Council is searching to find a potential solution to the problems due to flooding experienced by some of the properties on Crabtree Lane, and other issues that have arisen in Burscough. As a consequence the Council pulled together a meeting with the LLFA and United Utilities to discuss this further and see how solutions could be progressed.

“This meeting was held on 14 September and the LLFA advised that they are actively investigating the issues associated with the flooding suffered on Crabtree Lane and considering possible solutions. Further discussions need to be held with Network Rail and the NFU to progress matters.

“I am determined that this Council will continue to assist and push for progress. I hope the above comments are of assistance to you.

“Kind regards Jacqui Sinnott-Lacey”. Chief Operating Officer
West Lancashire Borough Council

And today, 29 September 2020 from Gavin Rattray An Open Letter to WLBC Chief Operating Officer and Council Leader Ian Moran

“Dear Jacqui Sinnott-Lacey

“Thank you for your email about WLBC’s recent and next flooding meeting.

“Burscough Flooding Group (BFG) are happy to share our knowledge of the causes of the increased rate of surface water flooding at Crabtree Lane. Unfortunately, that was not possible because WLBC withdrew its previous invitation to meet. We would be delighted to attend your next flooding meeting with partners if they are not held in secret as usual. Can you please let us know if you wish us to attend and assist the solution with local knowledge?

“As you know, up to now our flood risk management authorities have held meetings where you do not want to meet or hear from flood victims or residents with local knowledge of the problem. Obviously this approach attracts the conclusion that they aren’t serious meetings intended to solve a problem, and the evidence on the ground supports that conclusion. We would be delighted to help you change that situation, so can you please let us know if you wish us to attend and assist the solution with local knowledge?

“To that end, can I remind you of the investigation I originally requested in May into the unusual way the drainage conditions for planning applications are decided by WLBC, which yourself and Council Leader Ian Moran both brushed off in June and July and now again in September.

“Given your determination that your Council will continue to assist and push for progress, now seems to me like the appropriate time to investigate whether all of the available information was meaningfully considered and whether there have been many breaches of planning, or the drainage conditions were decided incorrectly for the many development sites, including 2019/1182/ARM, which are responsible for the increase in the widespread surface water flooding problems in Burscough. Can you please let me know whether you are going to investigate the matter as I requested in June 2020 and when we can expect a response with the results of your investigations?”

“Best regards, Gavin Rattray” Secretary, Burscough Flooding Group FLAG (Not holding his breath!)

Drains Clearly Not Finally Draining!

Unfortunate Champion headline?

Finally…adverb, as “the last in a series of related events”...which is clearly not the case with flooding events in Crabtree Lane Burscough.

Burscough Flooding Group issue raised with LCC in Jacobs Report. “The surface water sewer network would become surcharged during the 20% AEP event, with water also leaving the sewer network’. Does this mean that Sewage is allowed to spill onto Footpaths and the Road. Does this then make it’s way down to Orrell Lane, and is it likely to contribute to the smell of sewage experienced during flooding events at Orrell Lane and Crabtree Lane? Yes, under storm conditions when such spills are highly diluted by storm water.

And ‘Spills from the storm tanks drain to the Boathouse Sluice Drain which flows to the north of the treatment works’. Does this mean that untreated sewage can spill directly into the boathouse Sluice? Yes, under storm conditions when such spills are highly diluted by storm water.

To the Champion Editor.

Lancashire County Council admit Raw Sewage is allowed to contaminate our Streets and Farmland.

“Thank you for the article in the Champion this week about the Flooding in Burscough, it is good to have your support in highlighting the problems here. I appreciate the information you publish is provided by persons in authority who the public should trust. The information that has been published appears ‘carefully worded’, and does not accurately represent the full facts.

“If the drain had been “clear” on 11th August, properties would still be threatened with flood because the field downstream (pictured below)

was flooded and nothing from the drains on Crabtree Lane could flow because of it. As I have said many times to the Authorities “It doesn’t matter how many times you clean the bath, if you don’t pull the plug out it won’t empty”. The picture you see is likely to contain “Raw Sewage”. Lancashire County Council admit this in their response to the issues highlighted in the Jacobs’ Report.

“The Jacobs’ Report states, in relation to flooding upstream at Hesketh Rd and Furnival Drive “The surface water sewer network would become surcharged during the 20% AEP event, with water also leaving the sewer network”.

“I have asked “Does this mean that sewage is allowed to spill onto Footpaths and the Road. Does this then make its way down to Orrell Lane, and is it likely to contribute to the smell of sewage experienced during flooding events at Orrell Lane and Crabtree Lane”?

LCC reply “Yes, under storm conditions when such spills are highly diluted by stormwater“. So from this you can assume that the fields in this area are regularly flooded with raw sewage. Would you feed the produce from these fields to your family?

“There are 2 significant factors LCC have failed to mention; upstream development, which feeds into the failed system just mentioned, and the inadequate drainage beneath the Railway.

“Rosie Cooper has been asking Network Rail to address this problems for years, I have copies of several of her requests, but until now Network Rail have been unsympathetic. In January, I asked them (NR) about drains which had fallen into disrepair, but they couldn’t find them despite the fact I have provided a map of them.

“Councillor Adrian Owens (Our West Lancashire) has been a great help too He has come in person to speak with all the residents and also asked Network Rail to open up a line of contact for discussions, which now appears to have happened after providing them with hard evidence that the drains they could not previously find actually do exist.

“My sincere thanks to Rosie and Adrian Owens for their help. I hope in providing a ‘fair balance’ of the facts, that the Champion could give equal prominence to this other side of the story. Whilst the authorities are trying to convince the public there is little to be concerned about, our homes remain under threat. I am still cleaning and repairing after the flood of 11th August, and will be for some time.

“Yours, Bernie Webster”.

There is nothing final about this saga. As Rosie Cooper admits “I accept that this one drain won’t resolve all the flooding issues across Burscough or even across all the properties on Crabtree Lane…”…but she then adds “affording some homes protection some of the time, or at least buy residents time to enact their flood defence measures”. We don’t suppose the upper echelons of Network Rail, United Utilities, and Lancashire County Council will be bothered by having to enact flood defence measures, it’s just people like Bernie Webster and his neighbours who dread the pounding of rain into inadequate drains and the consequences for the homes they build from hard work.


The Flood Hub Flood Resilience Awareness Week Campaign

Are you aware of the Flood Hub? You should be, it’s full of bullshittery about making us all aware that floods can be devastating! As though we don’t know that from local flooding, Burscough, Crabtree Lane, anyone?

From Monday 21st – Friday 25th September 2020, we are running a Flood Resilience Awareness Week from our social media accounts.

This website has been funded by the North West Regional Flood and Coastal Committee and is a joint initiative developed by the Environment Agency, United Utilities, Newground, and the Cumbria, Lancashire, Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Cheshire Strategic Flood Partnerships. Yes, there they are, United Utilities, always there to pontificate, or provide bullshit, on flooding issues!

Millions of people and properties are at risk of flooding across the UK and the impacts can be devastating. We’re holding this campaign to increase awareness of the many ways that people can increase their resilience to flooding, and to encourage more people to take action and make themselves more prepared!

We’d greatly appreciate your support with this campaign on social media by tagging @TheFloodHub and by sharing with any relevant contacts via email or word of mouth.

This campaign also ties in with the #30days30waysUK September Preparedness Month campaign. More information about this can be found on the campaign website.

We didn’t predict that all this public money would be spent on telling people who’ve been flooded how devastating flooding can be. We must be more careful in future to make people aware that when it rains, blocked drains, always blocked due to negligence,  tend to cause floods! And we must always remember that United Utilities could spend its bullshittery statement publicity on just investing in 2020 drainage systems!

Nine Days Of Silence

“WLBC invited Burscough Flooding Group for a meeting and then organised it without us being there. Their competence shines through yet again”.

Have you seen these people?

They are wanted by the Burscough Flooding Group. They flit around promising meetings and then disappear up their own backsides. But we pay them!

“Well, the ongoing farce into WLBC’s handling of flooding continues. In an attempt to have the many unanswered questions finally answered by WLBC in a meeting, Burscough Flooding Group were proposing to meet with them in August. The finer detail needed to be agreed because WLBC, just like the Local Lead Flood Authority, are reluctant to have meetings voice recorded. The reason, my best guess is they just don’t want any evidence left for them to be held to account at a later date.

“A date for the meeting was to be arranged in the week commencing 10th August. At 2.00am on the 11th August, my home was subjected to yet another flood with filthy black muddy water filling my entire home to a depth of 6”. At 7.10 am I was live on Radio Lancashire to Graham Liver who was kind enough to give me some air time. I am advised WLBC were contacted for comment, and though they had little to say about my home being devastated once more, they did go on to defend their Planning and Development Policy at length.

“In the near 5 weeks since then, although an assistant has made contact, none of the Upper Echelon have deemed my situation serious enough to make personal contact or even acknowledge my home has been flooded. Too busy having Leave again. In view of the fact that other Residents had expressed concerns, it was unclear whether a meeting would now be with, Burscough Flooding Group, the Residents, or just myself and so I sought clarity;

“Firstly, could you tell me what is the meeting related to, is it as previously discussed, issues to be resolved with Burscough Flooding Group, is it related to problems in Crabtree Lane or is it for some other purpose. Whilst I will be working every day trying to put my home back in a habitable, clean and healthy place to live, resolving the flooding issues must take priority. I will make time for anyone who is genuinely prepared to move things forward and help the Residents here.”

So here is the answer, NONE OF US!!!
“Dear Mr Webster, I have now arranged a meeting involving Mr Ian Gill, representatives from Lancashire County Council as the lead local flood authority, and representatives from United Utilities to discuss flooding in Burscough, especially on Crabtree Lane. This meeting is taking place on Monday 14 September and Mr Gill will come back to you following this meeting to advise you of what was discussed and the proposed way forward. Kind regards”.

“So, it would appear that WLBC, United Utilities and Lancashire County Council have no need of any eye witness accounts, or any ideas from anyone else who has put in time and research into the problem, nor do they ask about what measures are already being taken, they learned all they need to know from the comfort of an office desk. The sad thing is, and believe me it is sad for all the Residents here, they intend to come to some conclusions without having made any attempt to gather all the relevant facts, just like they did with the Jacobs’ Report. Could it be, they are running scared of meeting an old age pensioner armed with the truth, some relevant facts and some difficult questions”.

You can make your own minds. Posted for Bernie Webster, flooded in Crabtree Lane!

Lancashire, The Backsliding County

It’s not just Lancashire’s dereliction of duty to flooded-out residents of Burscough that reveals its backsliding.

It’s about people who ramble there and in particular from the Manchester bound platform of Burscough Bridge station, at the gate signed to Martin Mere.

You are following a narrow path alongside the railway line. But soon you reach Crabtree Lane, and then after a short walk along the lane (which is always very quiet) you are onto fields.

Which leads us to the furore that got Network Rail off its backside and into some positive action relating to flooding there. Historically this area was once the bottom of the biggest lake in the UK and so it is all very flat!. The lake was drained to produce farmland in around the 18th century.

Our intrepid Crabtree Lane flood victim described his part in highlighting the neglect of his local footpath. “After spending most of the last five and a half weeks on my hands and knees cleaning the mud from my home following the flood on August 11th, I thought I would have a break. They say a change is as good as a rest, so today I diverted my attention to another of our authority’s neglected responsibilities, our over-grown footpaths in Burscough.

“Last year following many complaints from passing ramblers and local walkers about the over grown footpath from Burscough Station through to Crabtree Lane, I started trying to encourage LCC to come and clear it as I believe it is their responsibility.

“I logged a complaint on their website for footpaths, having noted there had already been one complaint. Once my complaint was logged, the other complaint disappeared from the site, so it appears, no matter how many people complain, they will only get to see the previous complaint and never get to find out just how many complaints they have already ignored. Genius, I bet someone got a promotion for thinking that one up, keeping the facts and the truth from the public.

“Anyway, after banging my head against a brick wall and getting nowhere, I cleared it myself. It took eight and a half hours of hard graft. The next day, 2 unrelated people called at my home to shake my hand, they were so grateful. It is good to feel appreciated. LCC should try it!
“For the rest of the year, I don’t believe anyone else maintained this path, so come early summer this year, it was overgrown again. I cut it back then and did it again today. It is tough work, today took five and a half hours as it measures just short of a kilometre by 2 meters wide.

“To the best of my knowledge, Lancashire County Council has not maintained this footpath for at least 5 years. So, here are some questions. Why is Burscough so neglected when it comes to maintenance of the footpaths, the maintenance of the drainage systems including the watercourses that are not kept in the way they were designed to function. The sewers that regularly overflow on the main road through Burscough spraying pedestrians with raw sewage when there is heavy rain as cars pass by.

“Why, when our council tax is increasing, are our public services being constantly run down to the point of failure? The authorities complain about staff reductions and shortages, so this should mean a reduced payroll, so where is all that extra money going?

“Burscough has the greatest amount of development which brings in £millions, not only to the council, but it has to be said United Utilities benefits handsomely from the development as well, yet they can’t bring themselves to spend this money in Burscough. It seems we only exist to be exploited. Burscough is seen as a place to make money but give nothing back.

“Well, this is our home, and some within the authorities cannot be shamed into doing what they are paid for because their number one priority is protecting their budget. Many of us who live here care about our environment and take pride in where we live. It is a shame the authorities have no pride in Burscough”.

“Approx 1km of footpath cleared. No help from Lancashire County Council”.

It shames LCC, It’s now becoming the norm. 

Flooding Institutional Inertia Overcome By OWLs

Hopes rise for flood affected area after Network Rail “come to the table” with OWLs.

Hopes for progress to alleviate flood risk for long-suffering residents living in Crabtree Lane in Burscough have risen. Network Rail drainage experts have confirmed drainage investigation works are underway and they will be meeting with Lancashire County Council on Monday.

Despairing residents in the area approached OWL Councillor Adrian Owens

for assistance after the floods of the 11th August which saw properties once again flooded. Residents have suffered repeated flooding damage over recent years.

After spending 90 minutes outside their properties and listening to their concerns first hand, Cllr Owens took up a number of matters on their behalf. “A camera survey of the pipework system under Crabtree Lane has now taken place and today Network Rail (the rail line runs across the affected area) have confirmed their investigations are underway”.

Cllr Owens said “It was clear that residents were meeting institutional inertia in having their voice heard and that there was a lack of coordination between agencies. I’m pleased that agencies now appear to be pulling in the same direction and I hope that out of this will come meaningful and effective proposals to alleviate the flooding risk in this part of Burscough”.

Email to Rick Hellings Senior Asset Engineer Drainage & Off Track – NW&C Region (North) 11 September 2020 from Cllr Adrian Owens “Dear Mr Hellings, I am a West Lancashire Borough Councillor and I have very kindly been given your contact details by our council Drainage officer, David Owens. I am assisting residents in the area. I am writing in connection with the Drainage System in part of Burscough, West Lancashire close to Crabtree Lane which crosses beneath the Manchester to Southport train Line.

“I understand that Network Rail have been contacted regarding this previously, the reference number is Network Rail – Service Request Notification 200114-000419. The primary intention of this email is that discussion and communication can be opened up with yourselves, the Local Lead Flood Authority; other agencies and local residents in order to explore the possibility of considering works which could ultimately lead to reducing flooding locally with funding being made available from other sources than Network Rail’s alone.

“I understand that in previous correspondence from a resident, enquiries were made regarding Culverts and drains which were believed to pass beneath the Railway but had fallen into disrepair. Network Rail responded indicating that these could not be found. However, as a result of recent work carried out on drainage nearby, one culvert and one drain have now been uncovered and cleared. These are shown on attached images pic 1 and pic 2. As you should be able to see from the pictures, the Culvert allows a considerable amount of water to pass through”. There is more, read it on the OWL website.

Email from Rick Hellings to Cllr Owens Friday 18 September 2020 “Dear Councillor Owens, Thanks very much for your email and extremely detailed and useful account of the issues. We are undertaking drainage investigations into the area, and this information will help that investigation. I am going on a meeting with Lancashire County Council this coming Monday to discuss this and other local issues regarding flooding. My colleague, Ben Fitzpatrick will endeavour to keep you informed of further developments. Rick Hellings BEng (HONS), IEng MICE Senior Asset Engineer Drainage & Off Track – NW&C Region (North)”.

There is more detail. But the main reason for this development was the total despair of the residents of flooded Crabtree Lane Burscough. We showed this picture of a flood damaged house with its beautiful flooring ruined, enough to break your heart. Who came to help? 

Nobody from the local Labour party, no Labour councillors for Burscough, were evident. Nobody from the Labour Council was evident. But the Independent OWLs  listened and you can read what happened above.

It’s the same in Aughton  parts of the Town Green School and surrounding properties ruined. Where were the local Tory councillors? One lives and works in London but is paid full allowances, two others an equal waste of space. Time was we were told this borough council would be cut to 36 elected members from 54. It can’t come quick enough if Burscough and Aughton are setting the standard for service to taxpayers!

Has Rosie Cooper MP Secured Network Rail Funding For Crabtree Lane Drainage Investigation Work?

The long-suffering flooded residents of Crabtree Lane in Burscough

will believe any promise from Network Rail to fund and carry out drainage investigation work on its rail line at Crabtree Lane when they see the colour of their money.

But, apparently, Rosie Cooper has secured Network Rail’s commitment “to fund and carry out drainage investigation work on its rail line at Crabtree Lane where many residents have suffered flooding historically, most recently last month”.
Following the August storms many residents suffered flooding at their properties on Crabtree Lane and contacted Rosie Cooper among others including Adrian Owens for support in getting action from the responsible agencies.

Responding to Rosie and despite not finding any drainage related issues during their initial inspections, and in the light of representations from Rosie and the recent incidents of further flooding, Network Rail has indicated that they will fund an investigation into better understanding how water flows through their land, which could also help unearth unknown culverts and pipes, and they will include partners to try and identify what is causing the problem.
Rosie said “I am very grateful to Network Rail for taking this step to help residents and agencies understand and resolve the flooding problems at Crabtree Lane. Network Rail has taken on board my comments and constituents’ distress and responded with this commitment to investigating how water runs under the rail line.

“This is a great example of partnership working and will provide the funding to better understand how water flows through the area, including Network Rail land and could help unearth unknown culverts and pipes. Network Rail told me they will now be working with Lancashire County Council drainage officers on the study. I look forward to receiving their findings and hearing about the action they will be taking to improve drainage in the area.

“A partnership between Network Rail, Lancashire County Council the local lead flood authority in this area with the support of the Environment Agency, especially if these agencies pool resources on flood management schemes, will mean that everybody benefits, most importantly residents who pay the bills and suffer the awful experience of their properties being flooded.

“I hope this work will move quickly and identify the problem which will be a major step on the way to resolving the flooding issues in this area”.

Sounds like a miracle is on the way! Questions for Rosie. Is that funding in writing? Is the promised investigation in writing? Is the promised partnership in writing? Because residents of Crabtree Lane deserve better than to be the subject of politicking that will undoubtedly occur between the Tory county and the Labour MP. If it is proved to be so, will full compensation follow for the residents? Do United Utilities and WLBC have liabilities?

From The Environment Food and Rural Affairs Committee

Dear Gavin and Tess

“Thank you very much for getting in touch with the EFRA Committee; I am writing as the Committee’s staff lead on this inquiry to acknowledge your correspondence.

“The inquiry is ongoing and there will be future oral evidence sessions which will be available to view online. Issues similar to those you raise have also been discussed in several of the written evidence submissions we have received and published on the Committee website, and all will be borne in mind as the Committee continues to consider matters related to flooding.

“Thanks for your engagement with the inquiry and do let me know if I can be of any assistance, or there is any other information you think would be useful to the Committee.

“Best wishes, Jonathan”

Jonathan Finlay

That’s two people representing Burscough in its fight for flooding justice. Meanwhile, we read that “Around 600 people work for the West Lancashire Council, making us one of the borough’s biggest employers. The Council delivers a wide range of services for people living and working in West Lancashire including housing, planning, refuse and recycling collections, leisure, environmental health and economic development”. But nobody from the 600 apparently connects to their LCC counterparts to alleviate flooding of homes. We produce a copy of a letter from that spells out the impossibility of any return to normality for flooded residents of Burscough   The white flag is flying on flooding while the cash bag for council tax is overflowing from developments such as Yew Tree Farm that now causes much more flooding! It’s the new norm! Get used to it!