'Maintenance would have stopped Swindon flooding'
5:30am Thursday 16th January 2014 in By Dominic Gilbert
FLOODING around Swindon could have been prevented if the council had invested in extra maintenance, according to affected residents.
The heavy downpours of recent weeks has caused problems around the town, and concerns have been raised that only one street sweeper is currently in commission for the entire borough, leaving the authority unable to cope with essential maintenance work.
Arthur Beltrami, 76, of Spencer Close, said money should be invested more wisely if problems in the future are to be avoided.
“With the increased rain the problem is getting worse, and there is no maintenance at all,” he said. “They are not cleaning the ditches or keeping the drains clear. As debris builds up, alongside the level of the river which flows past rising, it is getting to the point where soon we will be back to the same situation as years ago.”
Arthur said while they had experienced flooding, some work had been done to solve the problem in recent years. We had flooding around the rear of our street and at the bottom leading through down to the Hungry Horse pub,” he said.
“That area is about eight feet deep, so we still get flooding around there since it became really bad about two or three years ago.
“Prevention is better than the cure, and flooding will cost people a lot of damage in insurance costs. But they seem to cancel all the important things from the budget.
“The work they have carried out has improved the situation, but unless there is at least some degree of maintenance it will come back again. We have got a lot of money being spent on certain projects, but the basics need to be sorted first. Unless they consult and do their research properly, it will always lead to wasted money.
“It is more important to keep houses from flooding than to focus on pet projects. Maintenance has been reduced to just one vehicle, and you only have to look at what else has disappeared over the last year, with regular grass cutting being suspended and only being done by request, that the priorities are all wrong.
“In the middle of this battle for money are people who should be consulted. What is important is what they do with the money they have and what projects they give the green light to. Having made up their minds about how money should be spent they are not inclined to change it when circumstances change.”
Martin Hambidge, parks manager for Swindon Council, said financial restrictions would make the commissioning of extra street sweepers impossible.
“We have one gully sweeper and one road sweeper for the whole of the borough, and that is a budgetary issue,” he said.
“While we would love to have more machines to carry out this work, each machine is very expensive, and considering the current financial situation it would not be practical to add to that number.”
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