THE deputy leader of Rochford Council has called on his authority to step up to the plate and deliver a plan to alleviate future flooding problems in the district.

Rayleigh and Hockley were two of the worst-hit areas after flooding caused chaos across south Essex in August.

Many are still homeless and remain confused as to who is responsible for what service in the area.

Residents claim they have been passed from pillar to post when contacting the council, Anglian Water or the Environment Agency, with seemingly no one ready to take responsibility.

Councillor Keith Hudson said the work of councils over the years has become more sophisticated with the introduction of two and three-tier systems sharing responsibility and funding.

He said: “Sharing responsibilities can be a God send, it can also mean that no one takes responsibility, always waiting for the other man to step up to the plate.

“I’m of the opinion this is what has happened with respect to drainage.”

Essex County Council is the lead authority when it comes to flood risk in the district.

Responsibility for maintenance of ditches and drains falls on land owners, the Environment Agency and Anglian Water, but County Hall still oversees what work is done.

Mr Hudson said historically councils were first formed to provide homes and improve welfare for the poor, and to resolve drainage problems that blighted the nation’s health. He now believes it is time to revert back to the duty which has been long ignored.

He said: “We could sit back and point the finger of blame, or we could be proactive and help our residents by undertaking ditch and drain clearing to alleviate what has become one of the most pressing, traumatic and publicly aware problems that we are all faced with.

“We should step up to the plate where others fail to deliver. Ask those poor souls who had their homes flooded and those of us who spent hours trying to get past flooded roads in order to earn our living.

“I believe it is one of the fundamental duties of councils and it is a duty that has long been ignored.

“What we are talking about here is the need to return the responsibility of drainage to the local council. It is a service, responsibility and duty that is best dealt with locally as there can be no substitute for local knowledge.

“We know our local priorities better than those who do not dwell in the Rochford district.”

Mr Hudson’s proposals have largely been met positively by other members, but he added that ideas put forward would have to be funded.