Agenda item

Derek Oxbrough asked the Executive Member for Environment the following question:



Are budget constraints responsible for the lack of routine care and maintenance of the road drains/gulleys in the WBC area and particularly within Barkham. Background: For the past 4 years Barkham Parish Council, as a matter of record, have been requesting that WBC solve the drainage issues in Barkham Road between Coppid Hill and the Barkham Brook bridge. This section of road has a short, but one of the steepest hills (approx. 1 in 8) in the Wokingham area and has a double “S” bend on the slope to make it even more dangerous. Because of blocked drains, particularly in the winter, heavy rain causes a huge amount of surface water in the form of a 2m wide stream causing any salt that been spread on the road to be quickly washed away. If a frost then follows the rain the road ices over with black ice which is impossible for motorists to detect, and could lead to serious injury or death. There have been two major accidents this winter and in the second one a young lady driver was injured and her car written off. This is a dangerous section of rural road, which has a narrow pavement, and a high brick wall that has to take a huge amount of traffic. This traffic flow will only increase with all the additional new housing in the Barkham area. An additional aggravating cause of these blocked drains/gulleys is the lack of supervision of the WBC contactors who are meant to clear the pavements and road sides of all the debris from soil, litter and oak trees etc. on a monthly basis. If this debris is not removed regularly, it ends up blocking the drains and their interconnecting pipework. Barkham Parish Council has continually requested for the street cleaning task to be done properly and taken seriously as the roads are often missed for months or only partly cleared. No one seems to monitor the contractor to make sure the job has been done properly. So are budget constraints responsible for the lack of routine street cleaning and maintenance of the road drains/gulleys and will WBC provide adequate funds to resolve this issue in the coming financial year?



You made quite a number of points there so hopefully I will address them all in the response.  There are approximately 30,000 gullies in the Borough of Wokingham, all of which are included in the annual maintenance programme completed by the Council’s contractor. In certain locations, including Barkham Road, where we know that there are historical drainage issues, the gullies are cleaned more frequently.


Officers monitor the routine maintenance works by auditing selected areas on a monthly basis, as well as using an online asset management system where they can track the gulley emptier and review the condition and silt levels of the gullies. The current gully emptying contract is in its first year of operation so it is a new thing.


This section of Barkham Road is cleaned every four weeks and my information is that it was last cleaned on 8th February 2018 and it is next due to be cleaned on 8th March.


Officers are aware that there are historical flooding issues in this location, which have been exacerbated by a number of Thames Water drainage leaks in the last few years. For this reason, more detailed works have been carried out on several occasions to try and resolve the problems.


As you are aware, the most recent works have been carried out on the Barkham Road, between Barkham Street and School Road, over a three week period which began on 5th February 2018. This has involved ditch clearance, gulley emptying and jetting, pipe extension, pipe replacement, outlet clearing, gulley lid replacement and root cutting. It is hoped that this work will help reduce the problems you have mentioned.


There were also concerns about the drainage between Coppid Hill and Barkham Ride so that section was jet cleaned during this three week period to ensure it runs clear. As well as this, the contractor has cleared the ditch where the water in this system ends up. In addition to this our Officers have continuously put pressure on Thames Water to resolve the water leaks outside Barkham Manor and at the junction of Barkham Road and Bearwood Road. I understand that Thames Water are continuing to investigate.


There is a similar situation with a Thames Water leak near to the junction with School Road whereby water runs out of a BT manhole cover. Thames Water will be carrying out works to repair this leak within the next week.


Moving forward, a capital scheme will be required in this location to replace the existing drainage system but this will involve a significant amount of traffic disruption as well as having to conduct works on properties in the area. Therefore, our Drainage Officers are working collaboratively with other teams conducting other schemes so that they can programme these works.


Supplementary Question

Because you have just answered there that various bits would be dealt with and so forth but the most dangerous bit, which I believe should have been tackled first, is the hill.  It is where the accidents occur, it is where a double bend is, and it is where ice forms.  Yet you go and do other pieces that aren’t so important on a straight piece of road in a much lesser hill.  So I am not sure why that was.


But what I would like to know is when specifically is the question of the hill going to be sorted out?  When will that be done bearing in mind that we are just about to have another load of frost over the next 10 days?


Supplementary Answer

All these works, I am sure, will help it is all about flowing water in the right places but specifically on the hill I will take that away and come back to you with a further answer.