Following last month’s open letter to the cabinet member of Labour-run Ealing Council responsible for maintaining roads, Councillor Deidre Costigan, Ealing Liberal Democrats have further raised their concerns that Ealing Council isn’t fully prepared to deal with leaves stuck on pavements which when frozen over could lead to accidents across the borough during winter.
Ealing Liberal Democrat Councillor Athena Zissimos, environment and streets spokesperson, said: “Liberal Democrats have raised our concerns about dirty and dangerous pavements with the Labour Council but they appear to have done little to clean away the now wet leaves blocking our drains and covering many of our pavements.”
Councillor Zissimos added: “Liberal Democrats know that Ealing Council does not coordinate properly with Transport for London (TFL) which exasperates the problems in the subways. There is often mud that blocks gulleys and Ealing is responsible for leaves that have built up instead of being cleared away before the rain took hold. Ealing Council needs to take ownership of the issue and get it sorted.”
In last month’s open letter to Councillor Costigan, Ealing Liberal Democrats challenged Ealing Council to immediately “inspect and clear where needed all Council gullies and drains” following residents complaints and concerns about flooding on roads that has occurred on a regular basis.
During October and November, residents have said that when when it rains, the gullies and drains are not able to cope with it which causes danger and disruption.
In the letter to Councillor Costigan, Liberal Democrat Councillor Gary Malcolm, leader of the Opposition on Ealing Council wrote: “I (have) visited a number of areas including Southall, Acton, Chiswick and Ealing where flooding meant a number of shops were not accessible or routes by public transport were shut off. Some residents and business owners and myself, reported blocked drains and gullies on Council roads as well as some actually clearing leaves that were blocking some gullies.”
He added: “We also have seen an excess of leaves on our pavements. When the icy weather hits it will mean that some residents will fall, injuring themselves. The Liberal Democrat Group therefore demand that you initiate an immediate action to inspect and clear where needed all Council gullies and drains as well as quickly clearing all leaves that are on our pavements to reduce the chance of future flooding and trip hazards.”
A Council spokesperson previously told EALING.NEWS: “Highway gullies drain surface water runoff from roads and pavements into the Thames Water’s main sewers under the ground, however in rainstorm events the capacity of the main sewer network is often unable to cope with such intensities and/or prolonged period of rainfall. This can cause surface water to pool on the surface as the drainage system is backing up through the gullies from the Thames Water’s main sewers, but that does not necessarily mean that the gullies and/or sewers are blocked. Therefore, normally we suggest that at least three hours is allowed for the water to dissipate before action is taken.”
They added: “All the gullies in the borough are inspected regularly as part of the Periodic Highway Safety Inspection Regime. Highways are aware of areas susceptible to flash flooding and adopt a proactive approach of gulley cleansing in these areas annually in the summer. Highways inspectors continue to monitor these locations and arrange for further cleaning as and when necessary.”
Earlier this month (3 November 2022), residents and commuters using Victoria Road in North Acton woke up to find under the bridge the area flooded the second time in less than two weeks following heavy rain. As result there were delays in local bus 266 as Transport for London sought alternative ways for its drivers to avoid the area.
The London Fire Brigade were called out in the early morning to rescue a person trapped in their car.
One local told EALING.NEWS: “What is going on with the Council. This has been happening for well over 20 years and only just happened again two weeks back.”
They added: “It’s dangerous, happens on a regular basis and disrupts our lives. They need to fix it.”
When it happened previously, Thames Water confirmed to EALING.NEWS that it is Ealing Council’s responsibility to come up with a solution and fix the issue.
In a tweet message to EALING.NEWS, the water company said: “Our engineers have investigated this and this is rain water gathering in the dip of the road. Our assets are working as expected, and the road is the council’s asset”.
Councillor Athena Zissimos, Ealing Liberal Democrat spokesperson for the environment including streets, parks, air quality and climate change, told EALING.NEWS :“The Labour Council is never it seems proactive when it comes to blocked drains, even when they know that there is a problem, they still do not fix the problem, so the same flooding happens again.”
Councillor Zissimos added: “The Council should be inspecting drains on a regular basis and clearing them before they flood, not be waiting for flooding to occur before they do anything. In North Acton even when flooding does happen, that is not enough for a wake-up call for anything to be done by the Labour Council, the Liberal Democrats say they should be doing better.”
Ealing Green Party chair Neil Reynolds told EALING.NEWS: “As storms intensify as a result of climate breakdown, flooding of this nature will become more common. Of course the Council should do everything it reasonably can to clear drains. To try and limit this in the long term however, Government, at both national and local level, needs to act with appropriate urgency to tackle our carbon emissions.”
Ealing Conservative leader Councillor Julian Gallant told EALING.NEWS previously: “It’s not unusual to see torrential downpours in late October. Residents are asking why Ealing’s Labour-run council is always caught napping when it comes to keeping those drains and gullies clear of the leaf mulch and other detritus which causes them to flood.”
EALING.NEWS has asked Ealing Council for a comment in response to Councillor Malcolm’s open letter and Councillor Zissimos’s statement.