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Transport boss denies blocked gullies to blame for Knaresborough floods

Friday, 17 May 2024 07:32

By Thomas Barrett, Local Democracy Reporter

The flooding in Knaresborough and Cllr Keane Duncan (right).

North Yorkshire Council’s Conservative transport boss Keane Duncan has rejected claims that blocked gullies led to homes being flooded in Knaresborough after heavy rainfall.

The town was subject to flash flooding on Monday, May 6 and it resulted in the Nidd bursting its banks and raw sewage entering 50 homes.

There have been suggestions from Liberal Democrat councillors that the council had not properly fulfilled its duties to clean gullies, which can help drain water during storms.

At a full meeting of the council in Northallerton yesterday, Cllr Hannah Gostlow (Liberal Democrat, Knaresborough East) asked Cllr Duncan how many times a council gully truck had visited Knaresborough in the last three years and how many gullies were cleaned.

She also asked how many times the council had checked gullies in Knaresborough since the floods hit last week.

Cllr Gostlow added:

“I ask this in relation to the recent flooding incident in Knaresborough, where over 50 previously unflooded homes had sewerage water enter their living spaces.”

In his response, Cllr Duncan said the council had cleaned 2,664 gullies over the last three years and added that since last Monday’s floods, a gully car has been in the town daily.

He said 53 had been checked with staff jet cleaning 40 of them.

Cllr Duncan said the flooding was due to a “freak localised weather event” rather than unmaintained gullies and said claims to the contrary were “incorrect and irresponsible”.

He said:

“Flooding in Knaresborough followed rainfall of 32mm per hour, this was a freak localised weather event so extreme that no drainage system could possibly have coped.

"I must challenge head-on claims made on social media and in the press by local Lib Dem councillors that adequate gully maintenance and cost-saving measures are to blame.

“Our team have seen no evidence to support this claim.

"To be clear, we’ve seen significant improvement in our gully cleaning regime across the county. Last year we cleaned over 20,000 more than the year before.

"It’s our highest performance in many years. We are cleaning more gullies and committing extra resources, not less.”

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