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'Get your act together.' Committee demands water company action over West Norfolk flooding problems

Water company bosses should "get their act together" in response to repeated flooding incidents across West Norfolk, a borough council committee says.

The warning came as a decision on plans for a new bungalow in Gayton was deferred this week amid concerns over a lack of clarity on drainage issues at the site.

Many communities in West Norfolk have experienced flooding problems this winter and Anglian Water last month admitted sewers were not designed for the levels of rainfall the area has seen.

Scenes like this have become familiar in West Norfolk this winter.
Scenes like this have become familiar in West Norfolk this winter.

But there was little sympathy for the company during the borough council planning committee session on Monday.

Former borough mayor Colin Manning, one of Gayton's two ward councillors, said: "I have been inundated with complaints about flooding.

"Yes, we’ve had a lot of rain but it’s wintertime. They should be able to deal with it. They’ve just not got to grips with it."

Sandra Squire added: "Anglian Water, with the best will in the world, never take responsibility unless they’re forced to."

The company did not object to the outline application for a new property in Winch Road, arguing that the water treatment centre in nearby Grimston would have sufficient capacity to meet the additional demand created.

But ward councillor Michael de Whalley said Anglian Water had warned as long ago as 2016 that it was worried that development in the area was outpacing the capacity of local infrastructure.

He said: "This has been borne out this winter."

The company has said there was 40 per cent more rainfall than normal during the last three months of last year, while January was one of the wettest in a century.

And Mr de Whalley said the company had told planners that problems in the area were due to the volume of rain and a broken pump.

But he pointed out that tankers had been used throughout the winter to help deal with flooding in both Gayton and Grimston.

And he asked: "Is it not probable that the pump broke because the system was overburdened?"

Planning officers told members the proposed development site was not in an area of specific localised flood risk.

But committee member Charles Joyce said there was "no point" in bringing forward an application without a drainage proposal.

And Vivienne Spikings said it was important to go back to the company to ask whether the problems could be solved.

She said: "We can’t have residents continuously getting flooding and being fobbed off. We need action."

Mr Joyce added: "We need Anglian Water to get their act together. This is happening too often in that area."

A proposal to defer a decision on the application was passed unanimously after officers' initial recommendation of approval was defeated by eight votes to seven, with two abstentions.

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