County Hall blames Government for reduced Essex maintenance budget
FUNDING to clear and repair drains across Essex has plummeted by nearly £700,000 in the past five years, it has been revealed.
Essex County Council has axed its spending from £3.2million in 2007 to £2.5million in 2011.
The cut comes at a time when south Essex has been besieged with flooding after months of rain.
Dave Blackwell, leader of the Canvey Independent Party, said: “I am amazed the county council can cut funding like this when we’ve had such horrendous flooding.
“It’s just outrageous. It’s only a matter of time before things get so bad, it starts going into people’s houses.”
In July, firefighters in Canvey, Basildon and Southend pumped water from streets after 18ins of water fell in some areas. County Hall came under fire this month after a report by Scott Wilson Group revealed 37 hotspots across south Essex could be swamped by flood water in extreme weather.
The report cited poor drainage maintenance as being a key cause of surface water flooding in Canvey.
Since the report was released, the council has been trying to secure up to £728,000 in emergency Government funding to solve the problems.
A county council spokesman blamed Government funding cuts.
He said: “Essex County Council has worked tirelessly to ensure various savings, efficiencies and new ways of working results in us delivering the same levels of service for less money, ensuring value for the taxpayer.
“The extreme weather conditions that have been experienced have had a significant impact on our roads.
“Flash flooding has caused the public highway drainage systems to come under immense pressure, which is further compounded by the run off from adjacent land or properties and the already saturated soakage levels of the ground conditions.
“Essex County Council is continuing to prioritise works within the pressures of maintaining the public highway networks to the standard the public demand.”