Flooded Luton families fight for answers about failed holding basin

Flood-hit householders in Luton are fighting for answers about a holding basin that diverted flood water into their homes.

Friday, 15th July 2016, 5:51 pm
Updated Friday, 15th July 2016, 6:55 pm

Theresa McBride has lived at Marsom Grove for 28 years and says she never experienced floods until the storm of July 7.

She and other residents believe the holding basin built behind the street by Thames Water in August 2015 was responsible for the flooding after it overflowed.

Theresa said: “That holding basin was built to take floodwaters from another street and now it’s being diverted to our properties.”

Margot Verdon described how rushing flood waters came into their gardens on June 7. She said: “It came into the backgardens of our neighbours. We were flooded from the front, so we were flooded from both directions.

“It was frightening because the garage was flooded, the shed was flooded. The garden was just like a lake.”

Sarah Watson said: “We measured the floods to be between 15cm and 20cm, it went completely through our gardens and outbuildings, causing thousands of pounds of damage. It was literally millimetres from coming over the front doorstep. Thames Water have now provided us with sandbags.”

Angered residents contacted Luton North MP Kelvin Hopkins who interceded with landowners Luton Borough Council.

A letter from Paul Barton of LBC to Mr Hopkins said the council had not been given clear reasons from Thames Water why the landscaping for the basin had been left unfinished, apart from “delays in producing the wildflower-seeded turf specially commissioned for the project”.

Thames Water was contacted by Luton Herald & Post but declined to answer direct questions about the basin. A company spokesman stated: “We’re carrying out an in-depth investigation into the effects of the storm that occurred on June 7 but we know the rainfall that day was exceptional and overwhelmed the capacity of the storm drains that serve the Marsom Grove properties.

“We appreciate the misery that flooding can have on people and their homes and we’re now putting a detailed presentation together on our findings and will be meeting with all affected residents to address their concerns and the questions they have.”

A LBC spokesman said that the holding basin by Thames Water did not require planning consent from the council.

He said: “Thames Water has agreed to fully investigate the flooding in this area and results will be presented to a special meeting of the Council’s ward forum.

“Without pre-judging the outcome of this analysis, the Council has suggested to Thames Water that the action plan could include a flood management and resilience plan for this location rather than a series of piecemeal actions.”

Regarding an alleged increase of rats in the area, the spokesman added: “The council has not received any reports of rodents in that area since June 7.”