A FORMER leader of Oldham Council has challenged officials and councillors over blocked grids and road gullies in Saddeworth.
Dr Richard Knowles, a transport expert, has sent a dossier to top officials accusing the council of a “serious and false economy” in cutting the number of gully grid cleaners to maintain 43,000 roadside gully grids.
He argues there is now a huge backlog of blocked grids, with many needing digging out at great expense, ultimately to Oldham Council’s taxpayers.
In all, he has sent 13 lists of blocked grids to the council and Unity Partnership, the service provider, in the last six months compiled from his own walks around Saddleworth’s villages.
He estimates if the problem was multiplied across the borough, more than 1,000 grids would be affected.
Blocked grids on Holmfirth Road, Greenfield
And he says repeated offers to show officers and senior councillors some of the affected roads have not brought any response.
“This serious problem creates a significant road safety hazard and flooding and has still not been resolved,” he said.
“Unity Partnership vowed to introduce a new borough wide software system by August so that there would be a complete record in future.
“Oldham has a public duty to provide safe roads and prevent flooding and it is failing to do this,” he said.
“On the A635 Holmfirth road at Greenfield I counted more than 20 consecutive blocked grids.”
Cllr Shaid Mushtaq, Deputy Cabinet Member for Environmental Services, said: “The council is always looking to be more efficient and one way is the introduction of software which maps all our gullies and gives an overview of their current state.
“The new system allows us to identify gullies that may require more – or less – cleaning than the current schedule.
“That means tree-lined roads or streets that take run off in heavy rainfall will probably be cleaned more frequently.
“To help us tackle blocked gullies we’ve also purchased a jetting unit, which is in addition to the work we already do cleaning impacted gullies.
“Unblocking gullies is a priority for us and we are grateful people take the time to report them.
‘However, ad hoc calls for the cleaning of individual gullies can disrupt the service significantly, especially if the team is pulled away from their cyclical routine to clear a blockage where this is not presenting an issue.”
Meanwhile, Saddleworth community groups, spurred on by last year’s unexpected flooding, are organising their own survey of drains and gullies.
Dobcross Village Community executive committee are conducting an audit highlighting clogged gullies and drains, some which may have been covered over.
And recently Saddleworth Parish Councillors Katrina Roman and Paul Fryer visited an Environment Agency facility in North Yorkshire to study how they dealt with flooding issues.
Their findings will be presented to Saddleworth Parish Council’s environment committee with a view to holding a public conference later in the year to discuss a local flood plan.