Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been taken to task for failing to deliver flooded Skelmersdale Tubes.
West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper and local councilor James Upjohn have lambasted the Prime Minister after promising to ‘fix’ frequent flooding in flooded underpasses in Skelmersdale more than a year ago.
It was on February 3 last year that the MP for West Lancs called on Mr Johnson to work with Lancashire County Council to address persistent flooding issues which have rendered the city’s undergrounds ‘unusable’ .
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Highlighting the ‘forgotten people’ of Skelmersdale, she told the Prime Minister: ‘The people of Skelmersdale believe they are an island of forgotten people. It’s a new town from the 1960s, with very poor public transport and one of the lowest levels of car and vehicle ownership.
“For many, the only way to get to doctors, schools or shops or to visit loved ones is through some of the 87 underground passages, many of which flood every time it rains. Will the right hon. Gentleman is asking his officials to work with Lancashire County Council to find and fund a permanent – and I mean permanent – solution that does not involve the supply of canoes? »
To which the Prime Minister replied at the time: “I appreciate the MP’s desire. Madam to find a solution. I am aware of the problem she refers to and the flooding in the tunnels. We will definitely work with Lancashire County Council [LCC] to alleviate the problem, to solve it. I repeat: we have the funds available and we will ensure that this is done. »
However, despite promises made more than a year ago, no clear action has been taken since then, says the MP, who has ‘written to the Prime Minister on several occasions’ asking for actions and funds to help the situation.
MP Rosie Cooper has now said: ‘Sadly I’m not surprised Boris Johnson hasn’t delivered on that promise. That’s what we expect from a Prime Minister who can’t even follow his own lockdown rules .
“The people of Skelmersdale deserve more than these empty promises. Lancashire County Council has taken small steps to reduce the flooding, but says it doesn’t have the money to fix the infrastructure problems that led to the flooding.
“The Prime Minister told me they had the money to ‘fix the problem’ but Downing Street has repeatedly ignored my letters asking where that money is and how LCC can get it.
“I will continue to press the Prime Minister and the government to act and hold them to account for failing to deliver on these promises.”
His strong words are backed by Ashurst Independent Councilor James Upjohn, who sent a petition of 500 people demanding improvements to the city’s flooded subways to the MP for West Lancs last year.
Councilor Upjohn said, “Boris, stick to your word. You continue to lie to us in many ways. You promised that you would make funds available to solve this problem. Don’t tell us what you want us to hear – just fix the problem, give us the money to fix it.
Councilor Upjohn said the city’s flooded subways had been a problem for many years and were caused by the division of responsibilities between various authorities, with United Utilities being responsible for some of the pipes, while one of the affected subways, Melbreck , with its drain, was owned by Lancashire County Council, while the ditch into which the water flowed was on West Lancashire Borough Council land.
He added: “West Lancashire are looking to see what they can do and I know they have carried out extensive investigations to see what work needs to be done.
“Councils are currently struggling and their funding has been cut by central government which is creating problems. that they will only come out to fix a problem once there is a problem, rather than for routine maintenance.”
He added: “Conservative austerity continues to have a massive impact at all levels. Tubes have been a huge problem in Skelmersdale for 45 years. Why is it taken seriously now? Because an Independent Advisor jumped for joy.
Responding to the issue as it stands today, a Lancashire County Council spokesperson said: “We are currently working with West Lancashire Borough Council to address the flooding issues affecting Melbreck Underground. The council borough has cleared silt from a ditch that subway drainage is flowing into the ditch and need to do additional work to re-level the ditch so that all the water in it drains.
“We have recently started to do camera surveys of the drainage systems in 10 other metros in Skelmersdale where we get the most reports of flooding to help us understand why they are flooding and inform any maintenance or other solutions that may be needed. to reduce these problems.
“The way we feed our routine ravine clearing operations is based on the data we have collected over many years on the risk of each being blocked. We prioritize those who are more likely to be blocked and clean them once a year as part of our regular cycle, however those in vulnerable areas can be cleaned more often if needed.We also clean some ravines that are in less vulnerable areas every two years, and d “Others that very rarely clog reactively. This ensures efficient use of our resources, helping us focus on protecting the places most vulnerable to flooding.”
“Ravines in vulnerable locations also sometimes need clearing after heavy rains as they can become blocked by silt and other debris being carried into them. Our ravine clearing teams will try to respond as quickly as possible. whenever this happens, and we are grateful to members of the public for reporting these issues through the Report It feature on our website.”
They added that the county council’s recently approved budget included an additional £680,000 for additional gully crews to target drainage works to help prevent flooding in the county, meaning there is would have a dedicated gully cleaning team in each district area.
A spokesperson for United Utilities, said United Utilities had no assets in the area and added: ‘We are responsible for public sewers and shared transfer drains in Skelmersdale. Lancashire County Council is responsible for the gullies which drain surface water from the motorways.
“We are part of a strategic partnership with Lancashire County Council, West Lancashire Borough Council and the Environment Agency to tackle flooding across the county.
“Residents concerned about flooding can visit the Flood Hub which has information and resources to help households and businesses become more flood resilient. If anyone experiences a flood from our sewers, we urge them to contact us immediately on 0345 672 3723.”
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and West Lancashire Borough Council have been contacted for comment.
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