Halton homes and business flood again as questions are raised over drainage and response efforts

The river Lune at Halton
The river Lune at Halton

A Lancashire business has flooded for the second time in two years.

The Red Door Cafe and Gallery in Halton near Lancaster suffered badly at the hands of last night’s heavy rain, almost two years on from the havoc caused by Storm Desmond in 2015.

The Red Door Cafe following flooding on November 22 2017

The Red Door Cafe following flooding on November 22 2017

The cafe and restaurant in Church Brow was submerged under at least two feet of muddy water overnight on November 22, forcing the business to shut again for a huge clean up operation.

Several other properties in the village were also flooded, and many residents, including Halton City Coun Kevin Frea, say Lancashire County Council is not doing enough to prevent or manage flooding in the area.

Others said they were very concerned about two recently approved planning applications for new housing off High Road and Low Road adding to the flooding problems.

Lancashire County Council arrived in High Road at around 8pm on November 22 to hand out sandbags, although there were precious few to go round.

The Red Door Cafe following flooding on November 22 2017

The Red Door Cafe following flooding on November 22 2017

Residents battled against the water seeping into their properties in High Road, while Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service spent several hours pumping water from Pennystone Road, where sheltered housing bungalows had to be vacated.

The main flow of water was bursting from drains in Arrow Lane, running in torrents down into High Road, and then filling up in Pennystone Road and Sykelands Avenue.

This differed from the floods during Storm Desmond in December 2015, where the River Lune bursting its banks caused the most damage in the village and the higher up parts of the village remained relatively unscathed.

Unfortunately for some homeowners in Church Brow, this is the second time they have had to deal with serious flooding within two years.

The beck by the  Red Door Cafe following flooding on November 22 2017

The beck by the Red Door Cafe following flooding on November 22 2017

Farrah and Will Norris, who bought The Red Door Cafe earlier this year, said they were in shock, but have thanked everyone for offers of help.

Will was at the premises this morning, Thursday November 23, assessing the damage and attempting to remove the mud and water from inside the cafe.

The couple live on the first floor.

He said: “I got a phone call when I was on my way home from work to say water was coming in to the building.

“We hadn’t managed to get the front flood gate in place but it was coming in through the back anyway.

“We went over to help the guys across the road as they had flooded again too.

“It didn’t help that people kept coming through with 4X4 vehicles just to see if they could.

“It just sent water higher and further into the building.

“The boiler and the electrics had already been moved higher since the last time it flooded, and the floor is all stone, but it will take us a while to get sorted again.

“We’re just in shock.”

Halton Coun Kevin Frea, who lives at the co-housing site in Halton close to the river Lune, said the river was over six metres high at at 2.45am on December 23.

He said: “The serious issues are obviously to do with the maintenance and capacity of the drains, and the lack of response from the local authorities.

“Two weeks ago people were reporting issues in High Road, but got no response.

“The other issue is the lack of road closures and diversions being put in place.

“People were asking how to get in and out of the village, and there were several ways, but no-one knew because there were no signs.

“One person got trapped in their car under the motorway bridge.

“Someone called the 101 number first of all, and got no response after 40 minutes, and then dialled 999, but the police told them it was a county council issue.

“We need a robust system that says this is the way you can go, and these are the roads that are blocked.

“There are solutions to these problems and that’s the most frustrating thing.”

Roz Frankland, who lives in Low Road, said: “All we wanted were some sandbags, but they want me to go to a builders merchants and get them made up.

“They’re trying to re-direct everyone to the Environment Agency.

“I could see this coming at lunchtime.

“The county council are just not geared up for any of this.

“They’re not fit for purpose.”

The Greyound Pub in Low Road remained open all night for anyone affected by the flooding.

County Councillor Keith Iddon, Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, said: “My sympathies go out to everyone affected by last night’s flooding. The problems were caused by the sheer volume of rainwater. We saw very high river levels, including the River Conder breaking its banks in Galgate, which meant that water pouring off the land into drains on the roads had nowhere to go. Fortunately, when the rain stopped at around 4am this morning, we saw the flooding clear quite quickly.

“Our out of hours teams across the county, include drivers on standby for gritting duties, spent all night assisting the emergency services, clearing drains and culverts, putting out warning signs and delivering sandbags.

“We will have other staff out today assessing damage to our highways, clearing any debris left on roads or washed into drains, as well as visiting affecting residents to offer support and advice.”

Coun Frea added that Lancaster City Council are putting together teams of staff to help with the clean up.

A surveyor is visiting affected homes, by Coun Frea said that anyone that needed more information or help should email kfrea@lancaster.gov.uk or call 07716 246672.