AN angry parish council has slammed the handling of a flood which its says reduced its village to a “laughing stock”.
Euxton Parish Council says the flooding at a rail bridge was “an embarrassment” to Lancashire Council and Network Rail.
Coun Katrina Reed, chairman of Euxton Parish Council wrote to Lancashire County Council and Network Rail following the flooding at the Euxton Lane rail bridge.
The flooding began with the Boxing Day storms but the road at the bridge was under deep water for several weeks.
Coun Reed said it was deplorable and poorly managed by those responsible.
She said: “Euxton was reduced to a laughing stock, with tales, some true, some not, of divers, kayakers, jet skiers, lost cars, failed attempts at clearing the flood and rescue vehicles themselves getting stuck.”
She said the road closure had affected many people and, together with the diversion, was poorly signed.
In a reply, Network Rail said: “Network Rail fully recognises the disruption recent heavy rain caused in Euxton on Boxing Day and into the New Year.
“The rain was exceptionally heavy. It simply overwhelmed our existing drainage pumps, causing water to flood the road.
“We fully accept there was a delay to us taking action. The flooding occurred when staff at Network Rail were already responding to a number of emergency situations throughout the North West.
“In this particular case, the fact it was the highway contributed to further delays, as it appeared to those in our control room, who are unfamiliar with the unique situation at Euxton Lane, that this would be the responsibility of Lancashire County Council.
“To be clear, this is not an excuse, but rather an explanation. I would like to assure you that since this incident, we have made sure all our control room personnel know about Euxton Lane. That way in future - while of course we hope they don’t have to - they can react more speedily.
“Once the problem was known and understood, a pump was deployed on site, which started to clear the flood water.
“As we began pumping, the enormity of the task became apparent. Sustained wet weather prior to Christmas had elevated ground water levels over a wide area. As the sump under the bridge is the only low point, we effectively had to remove water from the surrounding ground as well.
“This took more than a week. We are still having to pump intermittently to manage these groundwater inflows.
“Additionally, Lancashire County Council made the decision not to reopen one lane of the road under temporary traffic light control until a safe and dry carriageway could be guaranteed.
“All electrical supply and switch gear, which were completely submerged during the flood, were destroyed and had to be replaced. The road was reopened on Sunday 17th January 2016.
“I would like to reassure you Network Rail is committed to delivering a long-term solution to reduce the risk of flooding at Euxton Lane. Since 2011, we have been undertaking investigatory works to determine the root cause of the problem. There are a number of contributory factors, including:
·Poor condition of the original railway drain, which was intended to remove water from the road and discharge to the brook behind Euxton Parish Church
·Apparent loss of a historical connection between our track drains and the sewer in the A49
·Excess of surface water run-off making its way from the east of the site by-passing the highway drainage.
“In the summer, we are hoping to deliver work that will replace the original drainage pipe, so water can drain more easily.
“Given the complexity of this problem, coupled with blocked pipes and excess surface water, we have, and continue to work closely with United Utilities and Lancashire County Council.”
Phil Barrett, Lancashire County Council director of community services, said: “Network Rail is responsible for the drainage system under the railway bridge at Euxton Lane and is responsible for repairing any faults.
“Working alongside the emergency services we had to prioritise our resources during the Boxing Day storms, which in some parts of the county posed a threat to life and resulted in hundreds of properties being flooded.
“We closed Euxton Lane and put in a diversion route immediately the flooding was reported, and early in the New Year our officers worked closely with Network Rail to allow Euxton Lane to be reopened as soon as possible.
“This issue was not straightforward and involved the replacement of a flood-damaged control box, the reconnection of the electricity supply, and Network Rail using a tanker to manually remove the flood water.
“Whilst we appreciate the inconvenience of a diversion, the route was appropriate for the type and volume of traffic and was also appropriately signed.
“We understand that Network Rail is due to carry out substantial drainage work in the summer to mitigate the risk of a similar flooding event occurring again.”