Flooding: 'We’ve probably lost around £10,000'

Tydd St Giles ditch

Residents in Tydd St Giles have recently been experiencing flooding - and lack of ditch maintenance is widely discussed as being one of the problems. - Credit: Supplied

A homeowner says thousands of pounds of children’s play equipment and plants have been rotting underwater in his garden because of recent flooding.

Darron Grainger, of Tydd St Giles, puts much of the issue down to residents not taking responsibility for maintaining ditches on their land.

The resulting water is now running off and his garden in Kirkgate – and he says at least four other properties in the village are also affected.

Tydd St Giles Flooding - Garden and playground equipment

Flooded and frozen: Garden and playground equipment Mr Grainger's family has not been able to use because of ongoing flooding issues in his garden. - Credit: Supplied

He said: “We’re not the only ones whose gardens are flooded. Another resident has had water right up to her patio doors this year and she has been doing her best to pump the water away.

“When I add up the damage to my children’s outdoor play equipment, and all the improvements we made to our garden we’ve probably lost around £10,000.

“We bought this house because we understood it was on the highest point in the Fens and excess water would run into the ditches and drains. But that has not been the case.”

Ditch maintenance has been highlighted as an issue during the recent flooding across the Fens.

Overgrown ditch in Tydd St Giles

An overgrown ditch in Tydd St Giles before it was cleared. - Credit: Supplied

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Cambridgeshire County Council’s website explains someone who own lands adjoining a watercourse is known as a ‘riparian owner’ in legal terms.

“Failure to carry out your riparian responsibilities or not seeking the appropriate ordinary watercourse consent may lead to enforcement action,” its website says.

Mr Grainger said the flooding at his property and blocked ditches were reported to Tydd St Giles Parish Council, the North Level Drainage Board as well as the home owners and land owners responsible for clearing them in 2019.

He says he cleared the ditch on his property and ended up sorting out another which was not his responsibility.

A third household involved in the dispute has allegedly refused have any water running through the ditch on their property.

The North Level Drainage Board has now stepped in and residents have been notified works to help move the water along will take place in March to resolve the issue.

Water is currently being pumped from one ditch because it is currently blocked with silt and mud.

Water being pumped from a blocked ditch in Tydd St Giles

Water being pumped from a blocked ditch in Tydd St Giles. - Credit: Supplied

However Paul Sharman, the chairman of the North Level Drainage Board refused to comment on this individual case and whether it was funding the works itself.

“What I will say is that it has been exceptionally wet this year with four months of rainfall in just seven weeks,” he said.

A follow up email later added: "Enforcement action is always a last resort as it can prove problematic and expensive.

"It would not have alleviated the flooding issue in the short term as enforcement can be a long drawn out process, potentially taking years to complete, particularly if the person or persons to whom the enforcement relates are unwilling to act.

"My Board has therefore taken the decision to provide a pragmatic and practical solution to this particular issue in Tydd St Giles that will hopefully provide a solution to everyone’s satisfaction."

But Mr Grainger feels even though some form of solution is set to go ahead, the approach makes a “mockery” of The Land Drainage Act and people’s responsibilities as riparian owners.

Tydd St Giles ditch blocked with silt and mud

Silt and mud prevents water from flowing through the ditch system. - Credit: S

He said: “Water is backing up onto land, gardens and houses – it has been a health and safety risk.

“This is a blatant disregard for people’s property and all because one house doesn’t want the water to flow past there as it should do to reach the main drain.

“After all, this is what it was designed to do hundreds of years ago.”

A ditched cleared of brambles and debris in Tydd St Giles.

A ditched cleared of brambles and debris in Tydd St Giles. - Credit: Supplied

A cleared ditch in Tydd St Giles

A ditch in Tydd St Giles after it was cleared and the natural flow of water restored. - Credit: Supplied

Flooding issues in the village – including the problems at Kirkgate - were raised at the last Tydd St Giles Parish Council Meeting in January.

Councillors were also informed of issues in Newgate Road where a dyke was full and “lack of maintenance was the likely cause”.

Meanwhile, in Hockland Road, concerns were raised about water being pumped from a property onto the road in freezing weather “potentially creating a hazard to road users”.

Tydd St Giles is one of many areas across the Fens which have been hit with flooding this winter. Parts of March, Doddington and Coates were among those affected.

Various bodies are now coming together to address the issue.

In fact, March could be at the heart of a multi-million-pound project to solve flooding in Cambridgeshire if funding is secured from Defra and the Environment Agency.