Flooding in Hitchin causes misery to businesses

NOT enough is being done to combat frequent flooding in a town centre road, according to local businesses.

Bridge Street in Hitchin is subject to flooding every time there is heavy rain or snow. Last week, the road was flooded for several days.

Nicola Pope, who owns children’s hairdressers Little Roots, said that despite complaints to different authorities, nothing was being done.

“It’s pretty much a regular event. Any time there’s a slight chance of a couple of inches or more, the whole road floods,” she said.

“We’ve got a whole list of emails and letters sent to the [North Herts District] council and Herts Highways, and they all blame each other.

“One time, we came into the shop, and there was about eight inches deep of water. We had to shut the shop for a couple of days, turning business away.

“I’m just really annoyed about it. We have a list of clients, and when it’s flooded, we have to cancel on them.”

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John Leeson, the owner of Eric T Moore bookshop, also in Bridge Street, said: “The problem is that no one is owning up to responsibility,” he said.

“It’s been going on for years. Every time there’s a problem, I send emails, take photos.

“It happens at least once a year. My shop has never flooded, but there have been times when it’s been really close. Books and water don’t mix. I’m trying to take preventative measures at the moment.”

A spokesman for Herts Highways said Anglia Water was called out last week to deal with the problem.

He added: “There was certainly a problem with flooding on Bridge Street last week. It was caused by a blockage in the surface water sewer, which was fixed by Anglia Water on Friday morning.

“That is not the responsibility of Herts Highways. There are ongoing problems with leaves from trees in The Priory accumulating in gutters, and NHDC goes along regularly and cleans those.

“Responsibility for all sewers is now with the water companies.

“There’s been no issue with storm drains, which is the responsibility of Highways.

“Obviously, if people have issues, they should report it. But there haven’t been any issues with Highways for five or six years.”

Cllr Peter Burt, NHDC portfolio holder for waste and recycling, said: “Council officers visited Bridge Street on December 15 due to concerns raised by local businesses regarding flooding. Water levels in the highway drains were quite high, and therefore we contacted Hertfordshire County Council to assess and remedy the problem.

“Meanwhile, as a very minor amount of debris was found in the channels in Bridge Street, a sweep of the road was also organised. NHDC regularly cleans the surface of the road as part of its street cleaning schedule. |However, the cleaning of the drains themselves is the responsibility of Hertfordshire Highways.

“A Highways Engineer attended Bridge Street last week and confirmed that Anglia Water Services had cleared a blockage in the combined sewer in Bridge Street, which alleviated the current flooding issue.”

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