Recent flooding in Havering would have been even worse if the borough’s drains had all been cleaned, a senior council officer claimed this week.
At an environment overview and scrutiny committee meeting on September 8, councillors questioned whether gullies being blocked by dirt and trash had exascerbated the flash flooding this summer.
However, the council’s interim director of public realm Nicolina Cooper insisted the real issue was the borough’s “really old” drainage system, which lacked the capacity to cope with extreme weather.
Despite this, the committee heard the council aims to clean all 25,000 gulleys in the drainage network by Christmas and has already cleaned 6,000.
Gooshays councillor Carole Beth said her residents haven’t seen the gullies cleaned “for years”, adding: “One of the drains has got a number plate stuck in there.”
Gulley cleaning is carried out on the council’s behalf by contractor Marlborough Surfacing Limited.
Their contract was recently extended for two years, despite allegations of “performance failings” made at an overview and scrutiny board meeting in May.
Ms Cooper told councillors: “I appreciate people are extremely upset, but we have really old drainage that can’t cope with the capacity of a month’s rainfall in one hour.
“Whether all gulleys clea would not have made a difference, it would have added to and made it flood even more.”
Traffic and engineering manager James Guckian added that extreme rainfall, previously described as once in thirty year events, now occur once every ten or 15 years.
The council is currently looking into alternative drainage systems, which could add capacity to the network and slow down the flow of water.