Council told to use cash reserves to alleviate Saddleworth flooding

SADDLEWORTH house holders and businesses could face another two years of flood misery before money is made available by the Environment Agency for defence schemes.

Flooding in Greenfield in September

So, a plea has been made to Oldham Council bosses to release borough cash reserves to avoid a repeat of the destruction, distress and expense caused by three floods in less than three years.

Oldham planners have also been warned about the dangers of building new housing developments in areas where heavy rain could lead to similar problems.

Greenfield was the worst hit of the villages when rain storms hit on Monday, September 11.

Large parts of Chew Valley Road, Greenbridge Lane, Arthurs Lane and Oakview Road were under water while other areas of Saddleworth were also affected.

The same areas were also flooded on Boxing Day 2015 and November 2016.

Antony Bhunu, Oldham Council’s Flood Lead, says schemes have been drawn up to alleviate the worst of Greenfield’s problems.

“We have applied to the EA for funding but the approving processes take a long time,” he admitted.

“If we get on site within two years we will have done well.

However, Mr Bhunu, addressing a meeting of the Parish Council’s Roads and Transport sub committee, admitted there wasn’t any immediate prospect of funding.

“The approving processes take a long time,” he admitted. “If we get on site within two years we will have done well.

“We have carried out a lot of investigative work but because of (a lack of) funding we can only go so far.

“We are not just sitting and waiting. Last year’s floods more or less confirmed the urgency for the scheme in those locations. But it is not within our control.”

Mr Bhunu revealed the level of funding will be for between £200,000-£600,000.

As part of the proposals, a holding basin will be installed close to the junction of Chew Valley Road and Manchester Road.

Excess water will be taken off the carriageway into the holding tank and then released into Chew Brook once levels fall.

Flooding in Greenfield in September

He said issues at Arthurs Lane also had a direct bearing on the flooding of Greenbridge Lane, close to Tame Valley Squash and Tennis Club.

On the flooding of Oakview Road he said: “It has to do with catching water upstream on Friezland Lane.

“That’s where most of the water comes down from, more or less as a river.

“We hope by addressing issues up stream this particular problem will minimise the risk to those areas and properties.”

Greenfield-based Saddleworth Parish Councillor Neil Allsopp told the committee: “Oldham have substantial reserves and they don’t need to borrow.

“They can dip into those reserves for what is a modest amount compared to the number of properties affected.

“They should utilise the reserves as a matter of urgency. Those reserves don’t belong to OMBC they belong to the people of the borough.”

Alan Roughley from Denshaw Village Association asked: “In view of the lengthy time period is there any reason why OMBC can’t stump up the money now and then claim it back at a later date from the EA?

“It would be doing a real service to its citizens if it did the work now and claimed the money back later.

“There could be another two or three floods before the money is made available.”

A motion prepared by the committee has been passed by the full Saddleworth Parish Council to submit to OMBC.

It reads: “We strongly urge OMBC, to, with urgency, resolve the long term flooding issues throughout Saddleworth. with long term solutions either through borrowing or reserves.”

Councillor Allsopp also hit out at the building of houses in potential flood zones.

“What we are experiencing should bring any talk of mass construction in our green fields anywhere to a juddering halt until it has been established our infrastructure can take this amount of water,” he said.

Mr Bhunu replied: “Before any developments are approved we get to comment on them.

“Within Oldham, we work with our planners. Unless this is done we’re not happy.

“It is us who will be receiving the phone calls and us who will be dealing with people who are affected.”

A second motion was passed by the committee saying: “Greater care is given by the planning department about approval of new properties on land which has a high risk of flooding throughout Saddleworth.”

 

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