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The flood prevention section at County Hall were investigating a long outstanding drainage issue at Crancombe Lane in late 2019. Land Drainage Officers were in contact with a number of property owners in Horton Way to ensure that they cleared sections of the ditch at the rear of their properties fronting Crancombe Lane which were their responsibility as riparian owners. The Land Drainage Officers were also requested to investigate the capacity of that ditch. Quite understandably work ceased at the start of lock down.

However, water started to emerge from an inspection cover at the edge of the carriageway during periods of heavy rain. The Area Highways Manager advised that the drainage issues at this location were not a matter for him and that they were being investigated by their Flood Risk Management Team.  It was understood there were issues with the outfall from the chamber across private land and the ditch to which this discharged. Temporary signs and barriers were put in place for safety purposes.

Nothing seemed to happen after the various lock downs ended and numerous e-mails were sent to the land drainage officers which were not answered.
The Parish Council were not satisfied at the response to their complaints regarding the poor performance of the local drainage section and took the matter up with then County Councillor, Mark Healey.  His enquiry went to the Area Highways Manager who again repeated that the issue was not a matter for him but his employees would continue to re-erect the safety barriers which were frequently blown over in the wind.

E-mails to the then relevant Portfolio Holder went unanswered.

The situation deteriorated and the Parish Council sought assistance from the new Portfolio Holder, Councillor Mike Rigby after the 2022 elections, following understandable concerns from local residents in Crancombe Lane who experienced torrents of water running past their homes during periods of heavy rainfall. He quickly responded and arranged for a further update through the Area Highways Manager

“I am aware of the drainage issue in Crancombe Lane. However, although the water does discharge out of the manhole chamber in the carriageway and flow down the carriageway, it is more than just a highway drainage problem. The manhole in the carriageway forms part of a larger land drainage system, which discharges across the field and into a series of land drainage ditches & pipes that run through or beneath private land/property.

The problem has been in existence for a few years now and was initially being investigated by the previous Flood Risk Management team, within Somerset County Council. Unfortunately, this team became no more before the issue could be resolved.

From a highways perspective, I have more recently investigated a couple of highway options to assist with the problem but unfortunately these were not feasible as the highway drains, or the adjacent Wessex Water system would easily become overloaded with the volume of land water that they would be subject to.

However, moving forward on a more positive note, Somerset Council now has a Flood Risk Management (Flooding) team in place again and I am due to meet with them shortly”

It became apparent that the previous administration at County Hall disbanded the Land Drainage Section but did not want the Parish Council or local residents to find out, which was why e-mails to the then Portfolio Holder were not answered. Some two years were wasted and the situation was allowed to get worse.

At the October 2023 Meeting of the Parish Council some 15 residents from the Crancombe Lane area attended. The local Somerset Council Ward Members were not present but a resident outlined information obtained from his research into the matter. A direct e-mail link to the officer dealing with the matter in the new Flood Section at County Hall was obtained and the Parish Council sent the following e-mail on 31st October 2023.

“I understand that you are the appropriate officer to contact to resolve a long- standing drainage issue caused by a blocked culvert at Crancombe Lane, Woolavington.
As you will know the problem has existed for some four years and a timely resolution was hindered by the previous administration at County Hall disbanding the Land Drainage Section. The Parish Council was not informed of this and much time was wasted in writing to officers who were no longer in post.
Councillor Mike Rigby has now advised that the Flood Section has been reinstated. I believe that you have carried out some investigation work and have identified where the blocked culvert is located and the owners of the land concerned. Local residents understand that they have been requested to clear the blockage but no action has taken place.
The Parish Council strongly request that you now institute enforcement action as soon as possible so that the owners are instructed to clear the culvert within a specified timescale and that the constant nuisance of torrents of water flowing down the lane towards residential properties ceases."

The Parish Council was informed that work was taking place by the officers to ensure that the blockage was cleared and in early January the culvert was unblocked which greatly improved the situation and has prevented torrents from cascading down the road towards properties. There is concern that the ditches in the field adjacent to the lane need clearing but this is the responsibility of the land owners. The situation will be kept under review.

A further concern is ice should cold weather occur during the winter months.