No funding to deal with flooded road until ‘at least 2021’ locals told
- Credit: Kevin Bye
There is money available to tackle flooded roads, highways chiefs have said – despite telling one street the drainage issue they reported could not be fixed until at least 2021 because there was no budget for it.
After several residents in Straight Road, Foxhall, reported a road drainage issue on the Suffolk Highways online tool last week, the response from the service said: "We are aware of flooding at this location, however our drainage budget for the 2019/20 financial year is already fully allocated.
"Unfortunately our forecast budget for the 2020/21 financial year has been greatly reduced, meaning that it will probably be at least 2021/22 before sufficient funding is available to design and deliver works at this location."
But now the department has said the response was sent out in error, and work there would be taking place within 20 days.
A spokesman said: "Our planned drainage programme is developed to prioritise locations from the worst first - locations which are causing flooding to a property or posing a threat to public safety.
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"There is a limited budget attached to this so we have to carefully prioritise this to ensure we can use our resource and budget to best effect."
The spokesman said it had a reactive budget to deal with day-to-day flooding issues as well as a planned drainage work budget for scheduled work.
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According to Suffolk Highways, the planned drainage budget for next year has been allocated - but could change if certain locations became bigger priorities. The reactive budget for next year will remain to deal with issues as they arise, although the amount of money in those pots have not yet been disclosed.
Jack Owen, Labour's spokesman for highways at Suffolk County Council, said: "The recent flooding chaos has been a nightmare for people across Suffolk.
"Yes, it makes sense for the highways team to prioritise the worst affected areas, given their limited budgets.
"But with the flooding as bad as it has been, many roads and homes are missing out when they need better protection.
"It looks like the Conservatives are set to drastically cut their drainage budget which you can barely believe given recent events.
"They should be increasing this budget to sustainable levels, not cutting it and putting even more homes and businesses at risk.
"I can understand why people are angry that they are going to be hit with another big rise in council tax, but will see little in return. Once again, residents are paying Suffolk County Council more and getting less."