Business owners who were flooded during heavy rain last month say council chiefs have ignored the problem for ten years – and they reckon it is only going to get worse.
White Lion Street in Apsley was flooded during heavy showers on Monday, May 23.
This stretch is believed to be the lowest part of Hemel Hempstead, but the area’s business owners say that a combination of blocked drainers,nearby house- building and council inaction mean that they have suffered from repeated problems with flooding over the last decade.
And last month’s flooding left businesses thousands of pounds out of pocket from damages, having to close their premises, and from paying for a private firm to clear the municipal drains.
Derek Jones, owner of the My Body Centre, said: “It’s negligence and incompetence.
“Herts County Council have tried telling me that they have a cleaning programme in place to check the drains and gullies. I told them about the flash floods and they told me that someone would be there to see us – one man came, with a broom.”
The Gazette spoke to numerous business which suffered losses as a result of the flooding.
These included My Body Centre aesthetics clinic, which had laminated floor damaged and has to see if some internal walls will need to be replaced, Highclere Financial Services, which suffered damp in some rooms, the White Lion pub, which had to close for three days, replace its carpets and use de-humidifiers for 36 hours.
Meanwhile Apsley Fish Bar staff closed all evening, and staff worked until 3am clearing water and then giving the premises a deep clean.
Ibrahim Arman said: “We take a lot of pride in our business and we only want to sell good food in a hygienic premises.
“That’s why we worked until 3am – anyone who eats at Apsley Fish Bar knows that we can be relied on – it’s just a shame that the same can’t be said for the council.”
Although some streets were cleared by council contractors, several business clubbed together to pay a private firm to clear several drains in the street last week to avoid the problem happening again.
The owners said that the firm Clear Drains sent their staff within two hours who, at a cost of £576, cleared four man holes.
Alan Lakey, owner of Hi Clear, said: “This is the eighth time this has happened in the last 16 years. I’m just lucky that my premises are higher than everyone else.
“But six years ago I was under six inches of water. In the end I had to sue County Hall to get my insurance excess repaid.”
A spokesman for Hertfordshire County Council said: “Areas in the south west of the county experienced a torrential downpour, which caused localised flash floods.
“Highway drainage systems are designed to deal with certain frequencies of rainfall intensity and flooding during this storm was caused by a very large volume of water falling in a short space of time.
“This overwhelmed the drainage system and caused the localised flooding in many roads, however the water receded quickly once the rain had stopped.
“We urge residents to report incidents of flooding via www.hertsdirect.org/highwayfaults so we can deal with any problems and check drainage systems to make sure they’re working efficiently.”