Bourges Boulevard floods again

Why Bourges Boulevard continues to flood – some possible reasons

It is remarkable that Peterborough City Council and Anglian Water can’t seem to get together to clear and improve drainage on Bourges Boulevard just south of the roundabout at Town Bridge. Flooding at this location often happens in very heavy rain and is reported in the local paper, which used to have its big blue sign on a fancy modern office overlooking the roundabout. (The Peterborough Telegraph has since moved out of the city centre.)

So what is going wrong?

Are Anglian Water and the City Council not talking to one another?

It seems maybe not. This is not the only location in the city blighted by what looks like an inter authority communication problem.

Flooding can follow observations of bad smells. It did this time: a reader notes this in a comment to the article. A smell of sewage is a big signal that drains might be blocked somewhere.

So are people not reporting poo pongs to Anglian Water?

Well, oddly, it isn’t possible to report or describe this particular phenomenon accurately using Anglian Water’s ludicrously coy website. There is no free text field on its reporting forms, and every option avoids any mention of the blocking or the contents of sewers.

I recently tried to report this problem at a different location and stumbled across this inexplicable reporting obstacle. The closest to a poo-stink-likely-to-be-a-drainage-problem I was able to report referred me to the “local drainage authority” (which in Peterborough is Peterborough City Council). Anglian Water’s reporting system also asks for my water account details, which are as relevant to a drainage problem wherever I happen to find it as my inside leg measurement. So, a bit cross, I rang them up. I know this is inadequate, but it is all I can recommend at the moment. So

If you smell poo, do a number one and a number two:

one: telephone Anglian Water on 0345 145 145

and

two: phone Peterborough City Council on 01733 747474

If anyone can identify a not so intrusive email address for Anglian Water, please put it in the comments, below. If you are happy to provide details of your personal water account (if you have one) when reporting an issue in the public realm you can report it using Anglian Water’s online form.

Is Peterborough City Council a competent drainage authority?

I’m not sure that the council is aware that when Peterborough Development Corporation handed its brief and assets over to the council, that package included drainage assets and all drainage authority responsibilities. The drainage boards outside the boundary of the council can be found online and there is local democratic involvement in their management: they are active and if there were to be a problem there is a democratic remedy available to local people. Peterborough City Council seems to think that if it ignores them, its drainage assets will look after themselves. This is certainly what happened in Park Ward, when a development on, and its “foundations” in a drain was permitted and the council remarkably failed to assert ownership of the drainage ditch (which it nevertheless clears from time to time). The development made the ditch less manageable and this resulted in a viable long term prospective asset owner walking away. But whatever its position since PDC handed drainage over to it, it has not been able to evade its responsibilities since 2010, when a law was enacted:

“County and Unitary Authorities have been made Lead Local Flood Authorities (LLFAs) under the Flood & Water Management Act 2010 with responsibilities to prepare and maintain a strategy for local flood risk management in their areas; maintain a register of flood management assets; investigate significant local flooding incidents; issue consents for altering, removing or replacing certain structures or features on ordinary watercourses (outside of Internal Drainage Districts) and play a lead role in emergency planning and recovery after a flood event.” https://www.ada.org.uk/member_type/local-authorities/

Are Peterborough’s elected members aware of the council’s inherited drainage responsibilities?

Evidence that they do is welcome.

Is Peterborough City Council adequately funded to manage its drainage responsibilities?

Legacy funding was never made available to the council when PDC was abruptly removed from continuing its work to develop and improve Peterborough. This explains the council’s ongoing difficulties funding the maintenance of the landscape the PDC built, including the Green Wheel. Central government has owed the city development infrastructure legacy funding since PDC left. In better economic times, it might have been possible to blur this. But now that the council is up against predictably far heavier rain (due to climate change) and impossible cuts (due to appalling decisions by central government), it makes sense now to claim what’s been due. The city has two MPs. The two of them should be able to do this for the city. They should also know whether other unitary authorities are also owed this funding.

So, until I find evidence to the contrary, it is reasonable to conclude that no, it isn’t.

Is Peterborough City Council competent to manage drainage and sewer works?

I welcome evidence that it is. The prevalence of sewage pongs suggests it isn’t. As do the reports listed on the Anglian Water website, which lists long standing sewer repairs still not completed.