Rushmere: Dan Poulter MP tells highways chiefs to act with ‘greater urgency’ over sewage problem

Dr Dan Poulter MP

Dr Dan Poulter MP

Highways chiefs have been told their response to a decade long drainage problem, which has flooded a Suffolk street with raw sewage, has been “completely unacceptable”.

Dan Poulter, MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, demanded Suffolk County Council act with “greater urgency” to resolve the troubles in Rushmere St Andrew, which is claimed to have damaged property and made lives a misery.

Speaking at a meeting held between Anglian Water, councillors, county officers and affected residents in the village on Friday, Dr Poulter made calls for “joined up thinking to find a lasting solution”.

Sandy Howard, whose bungalow in The Street is known to be one of the worst affected by the regular flooding, said she was “fed up” of being ignored and the lack of progress.

“For 10 years I’ve had absolutely nothing from Anglian Water of Suffolk County Council and it’s been getting worse every single year,” she said. “I cannot get outside my front door without getting soaked and the amount of times I’ve been shut in is ridiculous.”

While Anglian Water received some recognition for responding to calls for help, the county council was said to have been consistently poor, with messages left unanswered and calls for assistance unheeded.

Derek Oldham, the council’s eastern area highways manager, apologised for his team’s response, but warned there was “no easy solution”, claiming some of the options would cost “tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds”.

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He did, however, agree to carry out some short-term solutions, suggested by parish clerk Mel Bentley, for more regular maintenance and lowered drains.

Dr Poulter welcomed this, but he insisted more was needed in the long term, and pressed both organisations to work together on a detailed flooding investigation.

While Anglian Water’s representatives agreed to co-operate, Mr Oldham said he could not make commitments on his colleagues’ behalf.

This, Dr Poulter said, was “completely unacceptable”. “My message to the county council is that you need to give this issue greater urgency,” he said. “That’s why we are in public service – to help the residents – and that’s what we should be doing.

“To think that the issue can go forward for another month is completely unacceptable – it’s not a new problem that we’ve only just been made aware of, and some real urgency would be appreciated by everyone in this room.”

Mrs Howard was also disappointed with the response. “When it rains I can’t do anything to protect my property – so tell me what am I supposed to do?” she asked.

“I’ve been asking you for help for 10 years and now you are telling me you can’t commit to working with Anglian Water.”

Dr Poulter called for another meeting to be held in two months’ time to report on progress.

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