Further fears of waterlogged roads as Northamptonshire County Council admits to cleaning only a quarter of its drains

A husband and wife who lost their daughter in a tragic car accident on a flooded stretch of road fear there will be similar fatalities in the county – after discovering three-quarters of the council’s drains were not inspected last year.

By Paul Lynch
Monday, 14th October 2019, 3:03 pm
Beccy Taylor.
Beccy Taylor.

Christopher and Nicole Taylor lost their daughter Beccy when her Peugeot skidded in Towcester Road in 2008, which they believe was largely due to standing water.

Over the past decade, slippery surfaces have caused deaths on the A508 south of Northampton and on Towcester Road on at least four occasions.

The Taylors, on the other hand, have been campaigning Northamptonshire County Council to improve the way it clears drainage gullies in the county ever since – but a recent complaint by them has yielded a shocking response.

The A4500 is particularly prone to flooding - and could be more so this year after it was revealed the county council was months behind on its clearing schedule.

An email sent to them from a senior officer at the council’s highways department has confirmed that contractors Kier WSP only inspected around a quarter of the county’s drains in 2018/19 – despite the fact they were meant to view all of them.

The officer wrote: “Northamptonshire County Council is responsible for currently 148,716 recorded gullies in areas of Highway registered as being maintainable at public expense.

“In past years, the County Council would expect that its service provider KierWSP provides a resource to visit (and clean if required) every gully on an annual basis.

“Having reviewed records from the 2018/19 financial year it is clear that although the plan and resource level was the same, the actual numbers of gullies visited fell significantly short of the target.”

The state of one of the gullies on the A508 is so bad, tall weeds are growing out of it.

In fact, the officer said Kier only inspected 40,184 gullies – cleaning 33,787.

The Taylors say this shows there has been almost no sign of improvement despite their decade of campaigning.

In a recent inspection of the A508, Mr Taylor discovered 40 drains blocked by silt and plant growth in just the two-mile stretch between Roade and Stoke Bruerne.He told this newspaper in August that he seriously feared a heavy downpour would result in a fatality.

The Taylors had successfully campaigned for a double gulley - effectively a large drain - to be installed at the lowest point of Towcester Road between Milton Malsor and Blisworth following Beccy's death.

Only 27 per cent of the county's drains were inspected in 2018/19 according to a senior officer.

But Mr Taylor says even that important safety measure is now blocked up with silt and dirt.

He said: “I’m distressed because we could have more flooding as a result of the roads not being inspected or maintained properly.

“I don’t think this is a funding thing, I think this is a cultural thing. I don’t think they get it.”

A spokesman for Northamptonshire County Council said: “Road safety is a priority for the county council. We are aware of the family’s concerns and are looking into the matter.”