Flood nightmare ongoing

OWNERS of flooded shops in Bridge Street, Hitchin, are being told that they will have to wade through water indefinitely. Shop owners have seen water rise to seven inches deep on the road and three inches on the pavement in recent weeks which has led to d

OWNERS of flooded shops in Bridge Street, Hitchin, are being told that they will have to wade through water indefinitely.

Shop owners have seen water rise to seven inches deep on the road and three inches on the pavement in recent weeks which has led to damaged goods, lost power and limited trade.

John Leeson, owner of Eric T. Moore Bookshop, has been corresponding with the Highways Agency over the matter after his personal investigation led him to the blocked drains on Hitchin hill.

In an email reply the authority stated that the budget did not stretch to unblocking them and that it was unable to order a jetting machine. Mr Leeson said: "I don't know why a single man with a shovel can't do it!"


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The shop owner, who pointed out that Hitchin hill is covered in trees, said: "To clean them once a year is absolutely ridiculous."

Weather reports are vital for the group of shops which have purchased sandbags that haven't been used for over 30 years to keep their businesses from being washed up.

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Nicola Pebble, manager of The White Wardrobe, spent six weeks locating the sandbags. She said: "That was the sort of thing you had in the war, it's not the kind of thing you expect to do in this day and age."

The bridal shop manager, who has to close the shop every time it rains heavily, said: "I can't even close my door properly now because of the water, it's swollen the door."

After water gushed in under the back and front door two Saturdays in a row Amy Hinton, sales designer at Planet, said: "The floor downstairs is still covered in a layer of silt. It's got to the point where there's no point clearing it up.

"This has happened twice in one week before and it's causing us a lot of damage in the showroom.

"On Saturday we couldn't even wade through the shop. People were coming in and we had to shout out to them from the edge of the stairs."

Russell Milligan, director of Planet, said that the small independent traders are being affected and that new businesses won't move into the vacant buildings in the street once they are aware of the problem. He said: "It's hard enough to survive anyway!"

When the flooding is really bad people cannot even access the road, and Mr Milligan estimates: "In monetary terms it's probably cost us a couple of grand. In time and inconvenience it's probably that again."

Cllr Allison Ashley was contacted by the group of shops and is following the case for the street. She said: "I think it needs to be addressed and I'm in touch with Highways about it."

If the group fail to receive any feedback they may resort to protests and rallies, according to Mr Milligan. He said: "If they don't do something about it soon, it's only going to get worse."

A spokesperson for Herts County Council said: "We were made aware of some blocked drains on Hitchin hill in November last year, and were due to order a jetting machine to unblock them.

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