By Andy Hirst
A Huddersfield business is helping a young family struggling with chronic flooding issues at their rural home due to a long-running battle with Kirklees Council.
Lewyn Clegg lives in a semi-detached cottage in Haddingley Lane, Cumberworth, with fiancée Natalie Dossor and their two young children, but their cellar keeps filling with flood water.
Lewyn suspected the water was coming from a blocked culvert and dug a deep hole in his yard to uncover the culvert and show it was not blocked on his property. He has now asked Kirklees Council to find the blockage he is sure is under a nearby road junction and fix it.
But the council says the old culvert is not on its maps and therefore has no responsibility to fix it.
This means that Lewyn often has to use electric pumps to get rid of flood water from his cellar, on his garden wall and on Wall Nook Lane near its junction with Haddingley Lane, but the water has returned to the garden through the wall and the door, adding to the problem.
Huddersfield’s Environmental Defense Systems Ltd make an alternative sandbag called FloodSax (www.floodsax.co.uk) which is used around the world to solve flooding problems and when they learned of the plight of the family , they offered to help them.
They used around 30 FloodSax unsanded sandbags to stop the water from getting back into the garden and left another 40 for the family.
Lewyn said: ‘It depends on the height of the water table as to how severe the basement and garden flooding will be. Water flows from the field behind the cottage, through a culvert under the cottage, then under a road junction outside our front door and into a field opposite.
“We dug the hole to prove the culvert is not blocked on our land and we believe it is blocked under the road a few yards from our gate.”
The hole is so deep that the house is now supported by scaffolding posts as a precaution against any risk of it collapsing and Lewyn added: ‘You can see the water that would normally be removed from the property is static in the culvert. Due to a culvert roof collapse under the highway, the culvert is now ineffective and therefore floods the basement when it rains heavily. The current situation means that I need electric pumps which are now constantly running to pump water from the basement. »
Lewyn rejected the board’s position that it has nothing to do with them.
He said: ‘It has been established beyond doubt that Kirklees Council is responsible for unblocking the culvert under their motorway.
“We dug the hole after the council’s main excuse for not doing their civic duty was that the old culvert was not on any of their maps and was stuck under our land. Through external investigations and earthworks experts, we were able to disprove both theories, leaving Kirklees with no plausible reasoning.
Clr Naheed Mather, Cabinet Member for the Environment at Kirklees Council, said: ‘We sympathize with Mr Clegg’s situation and have been in contact with him for some time to provide advice.
“Council has carefully considered the issue and we have concluded that it is up to the owner to resolve it. Water pumps had been installed in the property by a previous owner and it is their operation and maintenance that is essential to resolve the situation. This is the owner’s responsibility, not the board.
“In the interests of fairness, we are unable to carry out work on behalf of an individual owner that we would not offer to any other resident of Kirklees.”
When asked if the council was generally responsible for culverts under roads, the council said: ‘The council’s motorways department can be said to be responsible for maintaining flows in living structures ( non-redundant) clearly defined as watercourses under the adoptable highway, as well as drains designed to discharge surface water from the highway only, as opposed to public and private sewers and drains serving properties.
They said Lewyn could ask contractors to dig the road himself, adding: ‘Kirklees Council can provide support and advice to help Mr Clegg ensure any contractor undertaking work is approved to work on the motorway by Kirklees Council and to ensure that any work undertaken complies with applicable motorway legal requirements.
But they said they would help Lewyn manage the water he pumps from his basement.
They added: ‘It is illegal for third parties to dump water on the adopted highway with potential hazards to other road users. With this in mind, Kirklees Council will work with Mr Clegg to resolve this issue.
Lucy Bailey of Environmental Defense Systems (above) and (right) the crossroads
Environmental Defense Systems Ltd is based in Golcar and Managing Director Richard Bailey said: “This is clearly a serious situation for this young family and as soon as we heard about what was happening to them we wanted to help in any way possible.
“We just hope this situation can be resolved as quickly as possible, as it is clearly causing a great deal of distress and anxiety.”
FloodSax look like large pillowcases in their dry state, but once submerged in water, the special gelling polymer inside absorbs the water and turns the FloodSax into an instant sandbag but without sand. They are much more environmentally friendly than traditional sandbags and are 96% biodegradable by weight.
When dry, they are very flat with a large surface area and can therefore absorb water in otherwise inaccessible places such as under floors or where pumping equipment cannot reach.
Richard added: “The FloodSax will prevent the water they pump from returning to the property and the Dry FloodSax can also be used to absorb flood water that cannot be pumped out of the basement.”
*The copyright of this story belongs to freelance journalist ANDY HIRST who runs his own agency in Yorkshire AH! PR (https://ah-pr.com/) specializing in articles for the media, press releases, blogs, copywriting, scriptwriting and award submissions.