Flood defence misery for householders

Angela Gilby and Neil Claxton by the bank of the River Skell which runs past their homes. (1303267AM2)
Angela Gilby and Neil Claxton by the bank of the River Skell which runs past their homes. (1303267AM2)

Desperate Ripon homeowners left with a trail of mess following flood defence works are threatening to take matters into their own hands if problems are not solved soon.

Residents living on the street which overlooks the River Skell say the Enviroment Agency (EA) flood alleviation scheme has left trees collapsing into the water, stray boulders which have damaged vehicles and drainage problems causing the road to flood after rain.

Builder Neil Claxton, who has lived on Fishergreen for five years, says things are so bad he is considering building his own road gulley to take away surface water from the road which is retained by the raised riverbank EA contractors constructed.

“We need some sort of better drainage,” said Mr Claxton, 41.

“If I ever have anyone coming to visit me, there is water running right up into my drive like a little lake and it’s very hard to park up.

“The water also pulls up all the mud onto my drive. It has caused a grievance for quite a few residents.”

The EA said the two road gullies put in place were approved by North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) as part of the £14.4m scheme for the city but homeowners argue 10 are needed to provide sufficient drainage.

Mr Claxton has also been forced to move a boulder from the grass verge by the bank of the river to outside his house because they are causing damage to vehicles and preventing residents from parking.

“I don’t think the stones should be there,” he said.

“I know a few people who have had their cars clipped by one and they are stopping residents from parking on the street.”

When approached by the Gazette, a NYCC spokesman said the boulders are not the council’s responsibility and are “placed sufficiently clear of the highway and do not affect it”.

And Mr Claxton is also concerned about the state of the trees falling into the River Skell and what will happen if they have to be destroyed.

“The trees are a mess,” he said. “It will be a shame if they are not replaced but the way they look at the moment just spoils everything.”

For Mr Claxton’s next-door neighbour, Fred Crossman, 64, who has lived on Fishergreen for 27 years, the trees collapsing into the river are such an eyesore he has sent out a letter to his neighbours to see whether they would have any objections to chopping them down.

“If someone had known the trees would fall into the river, fresh ones could have been planted,” said Mr Crossman, who has been in correspondence with officials at NYCC, the EA and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for months.

“This road is getting worse and worse.”

And Mr Crossman’s next-door neighbours, husband and wife Raymond and Angela Gilby, who have lived on the street for 14 years, are also infuriated by the ongoing situation and say since the works were completed their home has come close to being flooded because surface water cannot drain away, with the couple forced to sand-bag their property.

“We are just going round in circles,” she said.

“There is so much standing water around here – there needs to be more gulleys.”

Mr Gilby, 58, added: “We have had two years of lorries and diggers up and down the street completing work. The road has quite literally sunk and we don’t think we are any better off. I sometimes feel like we have been neglected now they have finished the work. We feel a bit abandoned.”

A spokesperson for the Environment Agency said: “We are continuing discussions with North Yorkshire County Council about surface water issues.

“At the beginning of March we removed a collapsed tree that had fallen into the river and was causing blockage and public safety risks.

“In order to protect the new defences, a number of boulders were placed alongside the riverbank to prevent vehicles from parking on the verge. These have been placed off the main carriageway so they do not reduce the width of the road.